Saturday, May 28 , 2016, 4:18 am | Overcast 57º

BizHawk: Bunnin Chevrolet Cadillac Takes Over Santa Barbara’s Graham Dealership

Hollister & Brace adds two attorneys, Get Happy Zone founder Jackie Ruka honored and lawyer Naomi Dewey recognized as 'rising star'

By Gina Potthoff, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @ginapotthoff |

[BizHawk is published weekly, and includes items of interest to the business community. Share your business news, including employee announcements and personnel moves, by emailing [email protected]]

The official sign is still on the way, but those driving by the former Graham Chevrolet Cadillac Saab in Santa Barbara may notice the temporary replacements out front, announcing a name change to Bunnin Chevrolet Cadillac.

President Leo Bunnin, who used to boast nine California car dealerships, purchased the dealership at 301 S. Hope Ave. in what he called a “friendly deal” facilitated by General Motors, handled by Performance Brokerage Services and finalized in early July.

Bunnin said past president Richard Graham was looking to retire after 22 years in the business, and Bunnin expressed interest since Santa Barbara seemed a good fit. Until recently, he had a second home in Montecito for nearly a dozen years.

“He’s a lifer in the car business, as I am,” Bunnin said.

Bunnin sold off his other locations over the years and now owns just two dealerships — the second is in Culver City — and said he doesn’t plan to change much about the Santa Barbara lot. Most employees have stayed, he said, and some others were brought on from his previous dealerships.

“I’m giddy,” he said. “I see tremendous potential.”

He said he plans to create volume and bring lower pricing to Santa Barbara, along with his company’s catchphrase “Everyone’s runnin’ to Bunnin.”

Attorneys Join Hollister & Brace

Santa Barbara bankruptcy attorneys Peter Susi and Jon Gura have joined the law firm of Hollister & Brace.

Susi, who has acted as lead attorney on more than 100 Chapter 11 cases, will focus exclusively on bankruptcy, reorganization and other debtor/creditor-related matters.

Prior to joining Hollister & Brace, Susi practiced at the law firms Stutman Treister & Glatt, Danning Gill, Michaelson & Gould, and Michaelson Susi & Michaelson, which became Susi & Gura in 2011.

The firm said Gura was an experienced transactional attorney and litigator, with a strong background in bankruptcy, corporate restructuring, insolvency and real estate matters.

Prior to joining Hollister & Brace, Gura served as a law clerk to the Honorable Ronald S.W. Lew, District Court Judge for the Central District of California, and practiced at the law firms Irell & Manella, Klee Tuchin Bogdanoff & Stern, Michaelson Susi & Michaelson, and Susi & Gura.

Entrepreneur Jackie Ruka Honored

Jackie Ruka, the founder of Montecito-based personal development company Get Happy Zone, has been named a winner in the 2014 American Riviera Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Circle of Light.

An American Riviera Woman Entrepreneur of the Year awards presentation luncheon is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. to 2:30p.m. on Aug. 9 at the Hilton Oceanfront Resort in Carlsbad.

Ruka, known as a lifestyle expert and trained art psychotherapist, has authored “Get Happy and Create a Kick-Butt Life,” a book published by Morgan James.

The entrepreneur award recognizes women who commit to changing their communities and the planet through their work.

Naomi Dewey Named Top Attorney

Super Lawyer Magazine has named Naomi Dewey, an attorney with Santa Barbara’s Buynak, Fauver, Archbald & Spray LLP firm, as a "rising star" in the field. 

With this honor, Dewey was recognized of one of the top 2.5 percent of lawyers in California.

The magazine evaluates outstanding attorneys from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of professional achievement.

Dewey specializes in client-focused general counsel and litigation services, working with employers, government entities, private clients, contractors and Realtors. She has also served as Santa Barbara Women Lawyers President in 2009 and on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Women Business Owners-Santa Barbara chapter. Currently, she is the second vice president of California Women Lawyers and Secretary of the Santa Barbara County Bar Association.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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