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Matt Buchanan, 29

Operating Partner, Sarasota Ford; Co-Founder, Dealers United

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  • | 1:20 p.m. October 4, 2013
  • Class of 2013
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Not yet 30, Matt Buchanan has already met a goal many sons of prominent and successful fathers struggle with: making a name for himself.

Buchanan, certainly had a head start with Sarasota Ford, the dealership his father, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, had run for years. But with Dealers United, the Sarasota-based auto dealers buying group Matt Buchanan founded with local entrepreneur Jesse Biter in 2011, the younger Buchanan has found his own way. The firm is a standalone startup success story, going from two employees to 20 in less than two years.

“We represent over 6,000 dealerships and growing,” says Buchanan. “It’s crazy to think we’ve grown that fast in so little time.”

Buchanan was born in Michigan and moved with his family to Sarasota about 20 years ago. A graduate of Stanford University, Buchanan has a full life outside work.

For one, he’s engaged. His fiancé is Diana Kelly, founder and president of Diana E Kelly Inc., a shoe design business. Kelly was a 40 under 40 recipient in 2012. One of Buchanan’s hobbies, further, is flying, which is why his favorite techno gadget is his watch with an emergency locater transmitter.

One agenda item Buchanan says isn’t on his current to-do list, however, is running for political office. Not that he doesn’t have opinions about the role of government in business and other issues of the day. He does, and he can speak passionately about them.

But — in a somewhat political answer, of course — Buchanan says now is not the right time for him to run for office. Still, he never says never.

— Mark Gordon


City of residence:  Sarasota

Birthplace: Rochester, Mich.

Marital status/children: Engaged…Getting married this October :)

Alma mater:  Stanford University

The most important business lesson I’ve learned: Never give up. We as individuals will fail all the time, but the key is getting back up and learning from our mistakes. I look forward to waking up every morning and getting better at what I do.

Favorite off-hours activity: Working out, spending time with family, flying, boating, and traveling

Two people, dead or alive, you’d like to have dinner with: Jesus and Abraham Lincoln

Book you’re reading now: “Who Moved my Cheese?”

Who would play you in a movie about your life:  Christian Bale

If I had a magic wand I’d: Cast out all the evil in the world.  Life would be so much better if everyone was just nice to one another.




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