PERSON TO PERSON

JM exec Czubay: A taste for hogs, pierogi

Ken Czubay: Rides motorcycles, but not to work: "I'm a corporate guy."
Either one of Ken Czubay's jobs at JM Family Enterprises would keep most people busy. As president of Southeast Toyota Distributors LLC, Czubay wholesaled one-fifth of Toyota's U.S. volume last year.

Between meetings and phone calls, Czubay also is president of JM Lexus in Hollywood, Fla., the world's largest-volume Lexus dealership. The store sold 7,727 new Lexus vehicles last year.

Name: Ken Czubay

Title: President, Southeast Toyota Distributors LLC, Deerfield Beach, Fla.

Age: 59

Family: Married to Jane, two children

Lives: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Education: Bachelor's degree in business administration, Wayne State University, Detroit

Big break: "Joining JM Family and having the opportunity to work with Mr. Moran."

I recently saw a photo of you sitting on a Harley-Davidson. What motorcycles do you ride?

I have the Harley and also a Yamaha and a Ducati. It depends what I'm in the mood to ride.

Where do you take the Ducati?

I take it where I can go fast. Let's just leave it at that.

Do you ride the Harley to work?

Oh, no. I'm a corporate guy. I can't do that.

You're a Detroiter, aren't you? From Hamtramck, no less.

Yes, I am.

So where do you go in south Florida when you get homesick for golabki and pierogi?

Ah, that's tough. There's not much available in the area. I'll tell you my secret. We have a guy at our JM Lexus dealership who makes great krushiki, which is a Polish crispy wings thing, with pastry. It's great. The Salon at the dealership makes some wonderful international food. When I get in the mood, I can talk them into making me something.

Back in Detroit, it's a different story. Every time I'm there, we get some people together and go down to Lafayette Coney Island in Hamtramck. Or Buddy's Rendezvous (pizza).

How much time do you spend at NASCAR events now that Toyota is involved?

As much as possible. We turn the races into big dealer events. We run sales contests and gave tickets away to the Daytona 500 to dealership salespeople. Our dealers really love it. I'll go into the pits and watch the race — wherever they'll let me go.

What's it like competing with Rick Hendrick?

You know, that's kind of funny. Rick is one of our Toyota dealers there in North Carolina, right in the center of NASCAR country. His team is the one to beat, as everybody knows. He's tough competition. I see him at the races. I'll go over and wish him well, and he wishes us well. But then we go back to our corners and go at it pretty vigorously.

In addition to running Southeast Toyota, you also run the biggest Lexus dealership in the world. How do you divide your time?

I set aside Wednesdays and Saturdays just for the dealership. I go work there. I'll spend the day meeting with all the departments and help out on whatever they need me to do.

But here's the trick to that: Have great managers. My general manager at the dealership, our sales manager, service manager, they're all really good. They know what they're doing. My role when I'm there is to coach, solve problems, if there are any.

Southeast Toyota always seemed like the shadow of the man who founded it, Jim Moran. Has the culture of the company changed at all since he passed away last year?

I think a lot of people assumed that that would happen, but I can tell you that it won't happen. I worked for 171/2 years sitting 35 feet from Mr. Moran's office. He influenced me. He was a huge mentor to me. His DNA is alive in this company. He inspired his managers and all of our people with his attitudes about how to treat the customer. And that's never going to change.

You can reach Lindsay Chappell at lchappell@crain.com

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