The chief operating officer of Scott Fischer Enterprises, one of the largest Harley-Davidson dealers in the country, started at the bottom.
When Glorita “Glo” Cuiffi told her parents she got a job handing out free coffee and hot dogs at a motorcycle store in Fort Myers, the news didn't go over well.
After all, Cuiffi had just graduated from Penn State University in 2001 with a degree in health policy and administration. She was only supposed to stay with an aunt in Fort Myers for the summer. She'd never even driven a motorcycle before.
“It paid for my beer money,” Cuiffi laughs. “I really wasn't looking for a job.”
But instead of heading back to her hometown of Pittsburgh in the fall, Cuiffi earned a promotion selling motorcycle clothes at the Harley-Davidson store on Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers. “You went to college and you're selling T-shirts,” her mom clucked.
That job turned into a career: Cuiffi is now the chief operating officer of Scott Fischer Enterprises, one the nation's largest Harley-Davidson dealers. Fischer, a self-made entrepreneurial success, was the Business Observer's Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014.
Cuiffi oversees all six locations for the firm, in addition to the human resource department. Cuiffi recently hosted her parents in Fort Myers to show them one of those locations, the jaw-dropping new Harley-Davidson megastore off Interstate-75 and Daniels Parkway. So far this year, the store has sold $450,000 in T-shirts, she notes.
Cuiffi, now 36, was a 40 under 40 recipient in the Business Observer in 2010. Soon after that the fast-rising star was named general manager of the company's store in Albuquerque, N.M. Cuiffi became chief operating officer when she moved back to Fort Myers in 2012.
Cuiffi prides herself on organization and communication. That means she's always on the road or on the phone with the store's general managers. “I'm probably the most annoying person,” she laughs.
An eager learner, Cuiffi is currently pursuing an M.B.A. from the University of North Carolina. She hopes to complete it next year. Work and study doesn't leave room for much free time.
“I've got two three-day weekends coming up,” Cuiffi says with a smile.
Cuiffi also knows how to ride a motorcycle now. After several years working in the store, she got the nerve to take Fischer's riding-school course to earn her motorcycle endorsement.
But it didn't come without a few scrapes. She popped a wheelie, for example, and fell while doing a figure eight. “That was really scary,” she laughs. “I enjoy being a passenger.”
Blast from the past
Here are some of “Glo” Cuiffi's responses to the questionnaire when she was a 40 under 40 recipient in 2010.
Business person you admire most: The owner and CEO of our company, Scott Fischer. He has constantly shown me that anything is possible and that it doesn't matter how old you are.
You just have to be passionate and be willing to work hard to make things happen.
One community group you're most involved with: Blessings in a Backpack (great children's charity)
I can't live without: Bacon
Best way to relax and let off steam: A glass of wine and conversation with my husband.
Favorite movie: “Pulp Fiction”
Best place to network: Chamber events, charity events, especially when hosted at one of our dealerships.