Mario Murgado’s story begins like many Cuban exile immigrants. He came to the U.S. alone in the freedom flights of 1966 – five days before his 4th birthday. His father joined him months later, but the short separation seemed endless to a toddler and marked him with a sharp commitment to family.

“That time made me grow up fast,” Murgado says. “That first separation from your father is huge.” He grew up in a Chicago suburb called Carpentersville, a Cubanito in the Midwest, and says it was the best thing that could have happened to him. “I just had some great experiences,” he says. “There is no place more wholesome, more special. I call it ‘Leave It To Beaver’ Country.”

In 1978, his family moved to Miami and he graduated from Hialeah Miami Lakes High. And like many young Cuban boys, he dreamed of becoming a baseball player. Instead, he walked into the Braman Imports near Biscayne Boulevard one day in 1981 and got a job as a salesman.

“I loved cars even at a young age,” says Murgado, who today is rumored to have more than a dozen personal vehicles. He bought his first when he was in the 6th grade – actually, as translator for his father, who spoke no English. “He was the negotiator then. I was just the translator.”

It was a 1969 Chevy Impala. “White with a black vinyl top.”,. Even though both his parents worked at a staple and nail factory, the family bought a new car every two years: A 1971 Ford Pinto. A 1973 Oldsmobile 98A 1975 Lincoln Mercury Monarch. A 1977 Chrysler New Yorker.

It must have laid the groundwork. Murgado was determined to work in the business, but even back then before he became a success, Murgado was calling the shots: “I kind of interviewed the bosses where I wanted to work,” he says, with a smile.

Braman won because the dealer not only had Hondas and Toyotas, but also BMWs, Porches, Audis, and Cadillacs and Rolls Royce vehicles. “It was an incredible selection,” of marquee brands and one of the best position dealerships in Murgado said. After a series of promotions over the next 12 years, he became president and managing partner at Braman Imports and Palm Beach Imports, which also sold Honda, BMW, Porsches, Audis Rolls Royce, and Bentleys. After almost 20 years with one of South Florida’s largest and premier automobile dealer organizations, he left in 2000 and six months later, opened his own dealership: Brickell Motors, a Honda, Buick and GMC organization that has more than 105 employees today.

As soon as he could, Mario began to give back to his community and he has been recognized locally and nationally for his community philanthropy and his grassroots political commitment to the international automotive retail industry. Murgado advocated for the elimination of the Death Tax and recorded radio public service announcement calling for its full repeal. He also reaches out to lawmakers on other matters and recently had a letter to the editor published against U.S. Senate Bill 3217, which could restrict choices that car dealers can offer buyers for financing sources.

While he says he does not aspire to political office, he is a staunch Republican who puts his money and his name behind candidates he believes in. He says it is his obligation to be involved.

America is “This is the greatest country in the world. And your success in business depends on being a participant in the community,” Mario says. “My generation is a very ‘me’ generation. We want to complain about all the bad things but not do anything about it. If you give an hour every week to your community, to a church, to any organization that you are passionate about, at the end of the year you have worked a full time week and more.”

Besides, success in business can depend on being a participant in the community, he says. “For us to grow, our associates, our clients and the people in this community have to grow. They have to develop.” He is regularly published and has won several awards, including the American International Automobile Dealers Association’s prestigious Impact Award, in recognition of his “outstanding grassroots political commitment to the international automotive retail industry.”