Badger of the Year 2018: Matt Gunderson ’85

Matt Genuderson

Matt Gunderson was raised in rural west-central Wisconsin as the 7th of 8 children in a family filled with Badger and Packer fans. He was actually born in Eau Claire and raised in a small town called Pleasantville, where he attended a two-room grade school for grades one through six, before he had to be bussed into the big city of Whitehall, population 1534, where he attended junior high and high school. After graduating from Whitehall Memorial High School in 1981, he became the fifth Gunderson sibling to attend the University of Wisconsin – Madison; from his graduating class of 77 kids, he was the only one to attend “Madison”. He spent his first year on the fifth floor of Witte Hall B, joined the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity, became active in the Inter-fraternity Council, and attended virtually every home hockey game – both Friday and Saturday night – due to the fortune of having two good friends on the team. He also spent every football Saturday stumbling to Camp Randall for Badger football — Remember, this was when the drinking age was 18 and before we were actually good at football. He’s embarrassed to admit he did not attend a single Badger basketball game while in college.

He graduated with honors in 1985 with a Bachelors Degree in Journalism and immediately took a job with the advance office of then Vice President George Bush. After that, he spent almost ten years in the sports marketing industry with Kemper Sports Management in Chicago, Illinois. While living in Chicago, he took a break from real work and completed his MBA at the University of Chicago in Finance and Marketing. Over 17 years ago, he joined his brother Scott in the automobile business in California. He is currently owner and partner – with his brother – of three south Orange County automobile dealerships — Audi Mission Viejo, Infiniti of Mission Viejo, and Volvo Cars Mission Viejo — employing over 185 people, several who are Wisconsin transplants. He has been Chairman of the Orange County Automobile Dealers Association, currently sits on their PAC Board and is the past Chair and current Executive Board Member of the Mission Hospital Foundation. He is also a past member of the Saddleback College Foundation Board and a volunteer AYSO Extra coach.

Matt lives in Ladera Ranch with his wife Margo – a Cal Berkeley Grad – and his four daughters — Annalee, a junior; Meg, a freshman; Caroline, a 7th grader; and Elsa, a 6th grader. He cites as one of his most impressive accomplishments in California is successfully brainwashing his four daughters to be Badger and Packer fans.