Sean O’Leary is back in Kansas and working for the same Wichita employer he worked for nearly 12 years ago.
Except this time, O’Leary — who grew up in Newbridge, County Kildare, Ireland — is the boss.
O’Leary returned to Wichita to become general manager of Gorges Volvo and Gorges Motor Co., a used car business on South Oliver.
He first worked for the Gorges family and its Gorges Volvo dealership starting in 1991, originally as a sales trainee.
Nine years later, he decided to return to Ireland, to acquaint his children with the country in which he was raised and whose economy in 2000 was set to boom.
“Ireland was getting ready to take off as a country in the European economy,” O’Leary, 44, said. “And I think my wife (Stephanie, a native of Sylvia) wanted to try it as well, a different culture.”
And then the bottom dropped out of Ireland’s economy. For instance, the house he said he bought there in 2000 for $140,000 skyrocketed in value during the boom to as much as $400,000. He said its value today is probably about $100,000.
While on vacation in Kansas visiting his wife’s family, he said he reconnected with the Gorges family, which led to his new job.
“We started talking, and I wanted to find my kids a better opportunity,” he said. “I met with Scott, Marc and Fred. I’ve always had a great relationship with them. They also figured out I learned a lot while I was away.”