Welcome to the Gateway Bronco Team
If you drive 30 minutes northeast on Interstate 55 from St. Louis, Missouri, you’ll find yourself in the quiet town of Hamel, Illinois. Originally founded in 1850, and with a booming population of 929 today, Hamel represents the strength and resiliency of small-town America.
While seemingly quiet and unassuming, Hamel, like other rural cities across America, has become a center of industry and (dare we say) a revolutionary hub of ingenuity and creativity. It is in Hamel where Seth Burgett, founder and CEO of Gateway Bronco, put his stake in the ground nearly seven years ago and set off to build the world’s most acclaimed classic Ford Broncos.
As a lifelong entrepreneur and businessman, Seth has not only been steadily and successfully building the world’s best vintage Broncos, but he is also putting together a top-notch executive team who is up to the challenge. But success doesn’t come when coloring inside the lines. That’s why, in an industry dominated by high-profile male personalities, Seth is redefining what it means to lead by assembling an executive team that includes some of the sharpest women in automotive.
Most recently, Gateway Bronco welcomed Melissa Bernard to the team as Director of Client Experience. A native Floridian, Melissa “cut her teeth” in the automotive space as a product specialist for Porsche Cars North America. Traveling across the U.S. and Canada, she became well-versed in working with potential customers of the luxury German brand. Eventually supervising a team of over 20 specialists, Melissa was ready to take her career to the next level.
“During those first years traveling around the country, I was really dialing into the passion that enthusiasts have for the Porsche brand,” she said. “I think I surprised a lot of people with the knowledge I acquired and the passion I developed for Porsche’s full lineup. At the time, I was based in New Jersey, and the opportunity presented itself to become the East Coast Personal Design Manager for Porsche. It was a new position designed to give more personal customer service to high-net-worth clients who wanted special customizations and a single point of contact during their build and delivery phase.”
Among those clients was Ralph Lauren, the famous American clothing designer. “One of my favorite memories during my time with Porsche was meeting Ralph Lauren at his home to help spec out his 918 Spyder. You don’t see him attending public automotive events like most enthusiasts, so accommodating his schedule in a private location was important. I remember sitting down with him on his back patio overlooking the ocean when I noticed a hummingbird hovering in the flowered bushes nearby. It was a surreal moment and I remember thinking to myself, ‘How did I get here?’”
In 2014, Melissa relocated to Atlanta where she took the position of Porsche’s 918 Spyder Client Relationship Manager. In 2016, she pursued a Product Manager role with Mercedes-Benz USA and since then has managed several product offerings, including a supervisory role over AMG, G-Class, and Maybach brand and product management. Not long after she started, Mercedes-AMG announced the company would introduce the Project ONE hypercar, a limited special build of a street-legal Formula 1 racecar. However, the company did not have a VIP process in place to accommodate the type of clients who would purchase these exclusive vehicles.
Leveraging her experience with Porsche, Melissa was tapped to become AMG’s U.S. Project ONE Ambassador. “It was an exciting opportunity to create a new role for Mercedes that was solely responsible for supporting the company’s VIP customers,” she adds. “Over the next several years we built a team that offered a personalized, high-touch process to support the top Mercedes customers. It was a tremendous opportunity that has now become an integral part of the company’s VIP customer experience.”
Melissa had no intentions of leaving the German automaker, but earlier this year she agreed to meet with Seth. They immediately connected over their shared admiration of Porsches. “I was really impressed with Seth’s story, his values, and his vision. I appreciated his genuine passion for building the world’s best vintage Broncos and providing a customer experience to parallel that passion. I had no experience working with a smaller automotive company but felt Gateway Bronco offered the same quality I came to expect from my time with Porsche and Mercedes.”
Today, Melissa is spearheading Gateway Bronco’s VIP customer experience. “We are so thrilled to have Melissa on our team,” said Seth. “She’s bringing a white glove experience to our clients throughout their customization, build, and delivery. And she’s bringing her experience with two of the world’s most successful luxury brands to the entire Gateway Bronco team.”
Gateway Bronco also recently brought in a powerhouse talent to support the company’s West Coast sales efforts. Born in Ukraine and raised in Southern California, Oryna Bulatova joined Gateway Bronco as the company’s General Sales Manager. Her career in the automotive industry has a unique beginning. Initially working in a career with animals, a family she worked for introduced her to their collection of exotic supercars.
“I had a great relationship with this family, and they just handed me the keys to drive their incredible supercars,” Oryna remembers. “I was grateful for their trust in me, and my time with them ignited my passion for automobiles.”
Leveraging that passion, Oryna approached Cadillac to become a social media and events manager for the American luxury automaker. The company offered her two demo cars and the chance to build on the brand’s reputation by attending grassroots events and putting ‘seats in seats’. Her time at Cadillac was followed by three years as a marketing manager for a SoCal performance shop that specialized in off-road vehicle customization.
“My time in the SoCal aftermarket scene was an incredible opportunity to build my knowledge and confidence in the world of automotive customization,” she said. “That confidence led me to a sales position with Audi where within my first month I was consistently ranked top three in sales.” It was during her time with Audi that she was introduced to the Gateway Bronco team.
After meeting Seth and his executive team, Oryna realized how “well-oiled” the Gateway Bronco machine is. “The entire Gateway Bronco team was incredible from the start,” she recalls. “Perhaps most compelling for me was that I clearly saw everyone’s opinions, perspectives, and ideas mattered. I realized it was a chance for me to be involved in a company where I could make a real impact on the brand’s growth.”
As the General Sales Manager, Oryna is helping streamline the sales process and creating opportunities to expose new enthusiasts to the brand.
“Oryna isn’t just a salesperson, she’s an enthusiast who understands what drives and motivates our customers,” said Burgett. “She’s really taken this role to new heights and we look forward to growing our brand with her support.”
Gateway Bronco is poised for remarkable success with a visionary leader in Seth and a dedicated team featuring automotive industry talents like Melissa and Oryna. Their collective experience and enthusiasm are driving the company toward a promising future, and not only transforming the vintage automotive industry but also contributing to the vitality and pride of Hamel, IL.
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