A ten years soon after Southwest Florida to start with felt his outsized presence, famous vehicle dealer Billy Fuccillo has died at 65.
CNY Central reported the Syracuse Car Dealers Affiliation announced Fuccillo’s death Friday early morning in an e mail to associates.
Remembered as a car or truck-providing legend by Kia government Percy Vaughn and a lot of other folks, Fuccillo created positive to help others together the way, stated Vaughan.
“Billy was an innovator. He did points that other car or truck dealers desire about. He did individuals commercials, but he always gave back to the neighborhood, that’s for confident,” he said. “Billy was a legend, man. There will never ever be another Billy.”
In March, his Fuccillo Kia of Cape Coral offered for $13.1 million, ending a flamboyant era marked by rock live shows, cruise giveaways, and torn-up lease agreements.
Fuccillo’s health had declined around the earlier 12 months, and he’d bought his Cape Coral home final calendar year to Lee County Commissioner and former Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane’s household belief for $2.25 million.
His Pine Island Road Kia dealership initially designed him famous in Southwest Florida, along with its commercials featuring his trademark “Huuu-ja!” and pitch lover Caroline Renfro. In a number of several years, the Korean-owned company identified his Kia dealership as the world’s major-vendor.
Arriving in a Southwest Florida nonetheless reeling from the Wonderful Economic downturn, he rolled the dice on residence that held an out-of-business enterprise Saturn dealership, perfectly right before the Pine Island Street increase, when Cape Coral was the epicenter of the nationwide housing bust. He didn’t wait to promote automobiles to these recovering from the disaster, defending the dealership’s practice of catering to prospects with lower credit rating scores.
“How are you heading to get folks financed?” Fuccillo questioned in a 2017 Information-Push report. “I assume we did a good deal of factors to get the group turned all around, and they in flip, helped us. Sell automobiles, that is what we’re here to do.”
As Southwest Florida’s most recognizable superstar, he was the person with the massive friendly grin you just could go up to and start out chatting.
One particular who did just that is North Naples resident Sue Smith, who discovered herself with Fuccillo at a Ruth’s Chris Steak House satisfied hour in Estero a couple yrs in the past. When Smith excitedly approached him to say hi, he was gracious and form. “I was so glad to have achieved him,” she mentioned, “and generally explain to men and women he was a lot diverse in individual than he appeared on Television.” Smith ideas to return to the cafe soon and elevate a toast to his memory.
Elevated on Long Island, Fuccillo commenced advertising vehicles just after he graduated from Syracuse College, the place he played restricted close for the school’s football group right before graduating in 1978 with a marketing big and psychology minor.
“When I received out of college, I went to a Chevy dealer in Buffalo, on the lookout for a career in gross sales,” Fuccillo instructed The Information-Press in the 2017 posting. Just after receiving turned down 4 periods, “The fourth time I went again, they finally employed me,” he mentioned. Three years later, he purchased his very first wholesale vehicle enterprise, and by 1989, opened in 1981 and his initial new retailer in Adams, NY around the Canadian border in 1989.
He then expanded westward, operating his way into shopping for dealerships. He acquired a bankrupt Hyundai retailer in Albuquerque, New Mexico for $25,000 (shifting his take care of to “Billy Fernandez”) then bought it two decades later to Utah Jazz proprietor Larry Miller for $7 million, he explained.
His Adams retail store was wherever he pulled off a person of his a lot of interest-finding stunts in 1996, when he invited Robbie Knievel, son of motorbike daredevil Evil Knievel, to soar his bike in excess of 19 cars exterior his Adams Dealership, the exact working day he bought a history 523 autos, he stated.
In 2012, he threw a Styx live performance on his Cape Coral ton, luring in thousands of the common rockers’ admirers and promoting dozens of cars and trucks along the way.
That form of showmanship manufactured him “one of the most special guys in the entire automotive market,” Vaughn stated in 2017. “When he does these promotions, persons come from as significantly absent as Miami or Tampa. They would drive down to acquire a motor vehicle from him, even even though we had other dealerships in those people regions.”
Fuccillo also aided nonprofits at his numerous locations. In 2019, he astonished the Harry Chapin Foods Bank of Southwest Florida with a $100,000 donation, lauding the nonprofit for “generating a ‘HUGE’ change in the life of individuals and people in need to have locally for above 3 a long time,” he reported at the time.
Corporations like the Salvation Army and the annual Massive Backpack Event also benefitted from his generosity around the years
Billy Fuccillo is survived by his wife, Cindy, and son, Billy Jr., who is the president of the Fuccillo Automotive Group. His funeral and non-public burial will be June 25 in Syracuse, NY..
– The Information-Push workers author David Dorsey contributed to this story.