Augustana junior Michael Buric is the kind of person who always looks to create an opportunity.
On the soccer field, he does it by taking charge of the Vikings’ defense and denying a scoring chance. He’ll even set up a teammate from the back on occasion, notching three assists in his Augie career.
Off the pitch, his opportunities come in the business world. At his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., Buric is the founder and proprietor of Executive Auto Detailing, a car-detailing business he started in high school and ran out of his garage.
At the start of the school year, Buric’s search for opportunities resulted in him finding another one for his Augie classmates.
During a summer marketing internship with U-Haul, Buric became interested in the company’s car-share program, which allows people to rent a car by the hour. After discussing it with Augustana dean Evelyn Campbell, Buric was able to bring the program to Augie, where it is expected to begin by October.
“A big thing car sharing is used for is college campuses,” Buric said. “If they can eliminate students from having cars on campus, and they can just rent a car when they need it, it’s perfect. I thought, ‘What a great opportunity it would be if we had it at our school.’”
When the program is implemented, Augustana will be one of 29 colleges to offer car sharing to its students. Buric explained that the program works because its users don’t have to worry about paying for gas, parking and insurance, and the cars have both a GPS tracker and an anti-theft system that prevent them from starting without a code given to the authorized renter. The cost is $8 an hour.
It’s no surprise that Buric would be involved in a program tailored toward its users. Ever since entering the business world, customer service and hard work have been staples of his mentality.
“I’ve learned to take really good care of your clients and create good relationships with them,” Buric said. “It takes a lot of time and effort, and you really have to weigh a lot of things and do a lot of research.
“You’re literally always thinking, because cost and time are of the essence. My hard work is what put me in position. I never wanted anyone to outwork me, so I made that my motto.”
The work has paid off in multiple ways. Buric nearly gave up soccer to pursue business full-time after breaking both of his feet while in high school, leading to multiple surgeries, allergic reactions to stitches and missed playing time. Having to watch his teammates took its toll on him, and he initially decided he was done with soccer.
However, after recovering, his competitive streak took over, and he decided to stick with the sport he loved. He saw a new beginning at Augustana, where his father, John, attended school after growing up in Chicago.
Buric called Augie coach Brenton Joseph, who had recruited him before his injuries, and told him he planned to give soccer another shot.
“At the time, we were going to be a very young team, and we needed people in his position,” Joseph said. “So that was a very welcome phone call. He’d played with one of the top teams in the country, and if you play with one of the top teams, you bring a pedigree about you.”
It didn’t take long for Buric to discover that his feelings were exactly right.
“In the first game, I played all 90 minutes and called my parents after the game,” Buric said. “I felt great, because I was finally able to get back in shape and do what I love, organizing, defending and playing the game.”
Since that night, Joseph has made Buric a fixture in his starting 11.
Joseph describes him as a strong and rugged defender who leads by example, a combination that makes life difficult for opposing forwards.
“He intimidates a lot of people,” Joseph said. “But he doesn’t just intimidate them by his looks. I think his play speaks for itself.
“He’s got a good work ethic, determination and will to succeed, and he’s a good team player as well.”
Those skills translate just as well to the business world. While running his car-detailing business, Buric’s biggest challenge was that he had too many cars to work on at times because so many others had taken notice. That led Scottsdale residents to trust him with expensive cars, a dream of Buric’s since he began going to car auctions with his father.
Since coming to Augustana, Buric has focused his studies on business administration and finance.
“I like every aspect of business,” Buric said. “Depending on different job opportunities and internships, I’m always keeping my door open. In entrepreneurship, you have to know a little bit about everything to run and initiate your own business.”
Joseph expects he’ll have no problems in those endeavors, calling Buric a natural salesman. Buric agreed, describing his thought process as economical, regardless of the situation.
“I’m always thinking, ‘Could I get this, should I do this, what’s the cost of that?’” Buric said. “It’s just the way I think. I try to be very practical, and I think it’s common sense to do the most you can with the resources you have.”