To merit the David F. Mungenast Lifetime Achievement Award from the American International Automobile Dealers Association, you must demonstrate an “unrivaled commitment” not only to your business and employees, but to your community and family as well. Local retailer Mike Maroone isn’t even a member of the organization, but this past March the group chose him anyway They got it right. Maroone entered the automobile industry in 1975 in Buffalo, New York, moving to South Florida in 1977 to partner with his father on a Ford business just two years after graduating college. He served as president and COO of AutoNation, one of the largest retailers in the world, from 1997 to 2015, and five years ago returned to his family business roots. Today he is CEO of Maroone USA, which owns six dealerships in Florida and Colorado, with the marquee location in West Palm Beach. SFBW spoke with Maroone about what a lifetime in the automobile industry has taught him. You ran AutoNation for a number of years. How did you decide to change things up—and how does the industry look different now? I left AutoNation in 2015 and then began looking for potential acquisitions. I didn't want to try and build something like AutoNation, with a huge IT team and a huge marketing team; I wanted to build a good, solid family business, with about $500 million in revenue a year. Right now, I have three family members involved, so we actually refer to this as a knowledge transfer phase. The business has always been competitive. It's been reliant on people. But it's not easy anymore. We've got acute shortages of every product. Our big, beautiful stores have empty vehicle display areas. You also have new entrants—whether it's Carvana, Vroom, CarMax, Shift—so you've got a lot of new players in the market. Technology has begun to play a very big part. We try and learn from everybody and adapt as we can as a small family business.

South Florida entrepreneur Jennifer Vilela is set to launch XP League’s first Florida franchise in Palm Beach County this fall. Vilela will become a franchisee owner of XP League, a youth esports franchise brand with connections to the professional esports community under the parent company, Unleashed Brands. Vilela has spent...

Jeremy Beard already had several successful careers under his belt when he joined LoKation Real Estate in 2015, and he draws wisdom from each of them now as the company’s director of business development. After a childhood spent in Boulder, Colorado—exploring the outdoors and fishing in local streams—Beard wasted no time jumping right into the thick of the free-market action upon graduating from college. “In my first career, I was a pit trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, screaming and yelling,” he says with a laugh. “I wanted to do that since I was 13 and saw the movie Trading Places—it was pure capitalism.” The job provided monetary rewards and a singular education in the financial markets, but the stress took its toll. “I had a great run there, but at 30 I looked older than I do now at almost 50,” he explains. “So, I got out of that game and sold my book of business, which gave me a lot of latitude.” Keen for a different challenge, he moved into the burgeoning field of infrastructure/key resource security, work that involved writing facility security plans for airports, marine ports and other strategically important properties. Before long, Beard found himself living in Texas and working as a specialist in mergers and acquisitions, which is what he was doing when he received a call from a longtime friend from Boulder, Nathan Klutznick. Klutznick was the CEO of a Pompano Beach-based real estate brokerage known at the time as The K Co., and he was in the process of migrating his firm to a new business model called the 100% commission model. Under this structure, Realtors are paid 100% of their commission in exchange for a monthly fee and an a la carte menu of support services, an attractive option for those used to giving away thousands to their brokerage with each transaction. “In the first year of transitioning our model,” Klutznick says, “I recruited 187 agents, moving us from a 17-agent firm to just over 200. It was then we realized we had tapped into a niche. We're filling a void for real estate agents and built a better brokerage model that increased their opportunity to earn.” The model intrigued Beard. “My background had been going into small companies with $2-$3 million in revenue, taking them to $10 to $15 million, and then acquisition,” he says. “Nate called me and said look, ‘I know you’re happy in Texas, you have your home, your kids were born there, but I’m on the precipice here of really taking off.’ ”