Torchlight Fall 2010

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Fall 2010 Alumnus Steve Pleau. Keeping it in the family gives Pleau his drive Connect For the latest information about Sac State news and events visit "Now and for generations to come" is more than just a commercial catchphrase for Future Automotive Group. Owner Steve Pleau ('69, Business Administration) says it represents the three generations of Pleaus who have grown the company from a single downtown-Sacramento Ford dealership to an award-winning eight-store chain representing four manufacturers in five Northern California communities. But it also describes the scores of employees who have been nurtured through the group's ranks and gone on to manage—and even own—dealerships within the company. The original dealership—Downtown Ford—was established by Steve Pleau's father Gene. Steve put in time at the dealership with summer jobs washing cars, but it wasn't until after he graduated from Sac State with a degree in business administration, followed by a stint in the Army, that he decided to enter the family business as a career. And like all good success stories, he started at the entry level. "I decided I liked the business and went to work for my dad as a commissioned salesman. It was good training and I worked my way up," Pleau says. But at a point he realized that he might have to chart his own course if he wanted to continue to advance. "I refer to my dad as 'a diesel engine.' He was a very hard worker and I wasn't comfortable sitting around waiting around for him to retire," he says. "I needed another mountain to climb. I told him I wanted my own deal." So Pleau started his own operation, Future Ford in Roseville. He laughs that, at the time, people were speculating that the move was the result of a family rift, which was far from the truth. "(My dad) was a real supporter. We continued to work together—I was a minority partner in his operation and he was a partner in mine." In fact, when Gene Pleau sold his downtown property, he came to work in Roseville along with Steve's son Geoff, who is now a partner in the Roseville and Sacramento stores. "At one point we had three generations working together," Steve says. "There was no other dealership in the greater Sacramento area that had three generations together at one time." The drive to build the company, and with it the employee base, is the result of Pleau's admittedly competitive nature— in college he was on a Hornets gymnastics team that didn't lose a meet during his four years in the Far Western Conference. "My business philosophy is either you are growing or you are dying," he says. "We recruited, and trained, and really made an investment in our people," Pleau says. "And we needed to Continued on page 2 Stay Connected on Facebook! If you want the most up-to-date information about Sac State alumni activities and campus news, be sure to "Like" us on Facebook. The Sacramento State Alumni Association now has a new, official presence at SacramentoStateAlumni. By becoming a fan, you'll connect with other alums across the country, stay informed about upcoming events and share your Hornet pride! csus_alumnipub_FALL2010_11-10-10.indd 1 11/16/2010 10:28:47 AM

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