15 questions with Scott Kunes, CEO of Kunes Auto Group

15 questions with Scott Kunes, CEO of Kunes Auto Group

1) What community does your nonprofit serve?

Scott Kunes: We serve every community we have a location in. For example, at our annual Trade-In Hunger event, employees at each location package meal kits for food banks in their area. We also have a global reach with building orphanages in India and supporting mission work in every corner of the globe.

2) When did you get started?

SK: As a third-generation car dealer, you could say I started at birth, but I took my first full-time position 16 years ago as an Inventory Management Assistant.

3) What inspires you?

SK: Our people inspire me the most. Most of them never saw this as a career for themselves, but they learn and adapt and teach us all something new every day.

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4) What was your first setback?

SK: The 2008 recession really hit auto dealers hard, and many of my friends lost their jobs or businesses. We had to move quickly to stay ahead of the curve while also trying to take care of our employees through a tough time.

5) How did you overcome it?

SK: First off, we gathered our employees to come together and make a plan. It was astounding how many were willing to make changes to their own lives and finances to help everyone weather the storm. Many took pay cuts in order for us to avoid layoffs. Then, we got to work in our new normal.  It would’ve been easy for everyone to dwell in the past when the market was good, but our people took the challenge head-on and helped us be leaders in our industry.

6) How did you manage the ongoing COVID-19 situation?

SK: We took much of what we learned back in 2008 and were able to apply some of those experiences when Covid first broke. We went back to our employees and those that had been with us a long time and we came up with a plan quickly. Covid was such a fluid situation and I think the strength of our teams allowed us to adapt to it quickly.

7) Does your business support any local nonprofits or causes?

SK: We are a Christian-based organization and believe in the tithe. We donate 10% of all our profits to charity, specifically those that help people in need and the less fortunate. We are in the middle of our Trade-In Hunger campaign, which provides more than $400,000 of food to local food banks in every community we serve. We also recently pledged $450,000 to one of our local libraries in Delavan, Wisconsin for a new community youth and job center. We believe serving our communities is the cornerstone of our business and our true “why.”

8) What is the most interesting thing about your business itself?

SK: For such a large industry, the auto market is in a constant state of flux. Continually evolving to new trends, while staying true to our core of serving people, makes for new challenges every day. It’s an exciting place to be.

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9) What are your long-term plans for your business?

SK: Industry trends point to more consolidation as single point dealerships get bought by auto groups.  We do want to be on the forefront of that trend while also ensuring that we are serving our employees, customers and communities.

10) What do you attribute your success to?

SK: Again, I have to refer to our people. I sound like a broken record, but they are our most valuable asset and continue to help us mold this company into what it is.

11) What do you look for in a good employee?

SK: We have our core values of Kunes KARES – Kingdom-Based, Agile, Respectful, Empowering, and Servant-Minded. I think the greatest of these, and the one we look for most, is servant minded: those who embody the value of truly making a difference for their fellow employees and the communities they serve.

12) What is your favorite food?

SK: Before I got in the car business, I was a classically French-trained chef. I love all kinds of food! Give me a good charcuterie board with some amazing cheeses and I am happy.

13) What state in the Midwest are you in?

SK: I am in Wisconsin, thus the love of cheese!

14) What is your favorite thing about the Midwest?

SK: The varied seasons we have. I lived in Florida for 3 years and I missed that most about the Midwest.

15) What is your favorite place to visit in your state?

SK: I live in Lake Geneva so it’s almost not fair, I never have to leave. As a kid, though, I loved Eagle River.

Find out more on Kunes Auto Group's website, or follow on Instagram.

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