A 10 years right after Southwest Florida very first felt his outsized existence, legendary vehicle dealer Billy Fuccillo has died at 65.
CNY Central reported the Syracuse Car Sellers Affiliation announced Fuccillo’s loss of life Friday morning in an email to users.
Remembered as a auto-marketing legend by Kia executive Percy Vaughn and quite a few other people, Fuccillo manufactured certain to assist some others along the way, stated Vaughan.
“Billy was an innovator. He did things that other vehicle sellers desire about. He did people commercials, but he often gave again to the neighborhood, that’s for guaranteed,” he mentioned. “Billy was a legend, gentleman. There will never be yet 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 above the earlier calendar year, and he’d marketed his Cape Coral house previous yr to Lee County Commissioner and former Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane’s spouse and children trust for $2.25 million.
His Pine Island Street Kia dealership at first produced him famous in Southwest Florida, together with its commercials showcasing his trademark “Huuu-ja!” and pitch husband or wife Caroline Renfro. In a couple years, the Korean-owned firm regarded his Kia dealership as the world’s best-seller.
Arriving in a Southwest Florida however reeling from the Excellent Recession, he rolled the dice on home that held an out-of-business Saturn dealership, perfectly just before the Pine Island Road growth, when Cape Coral was the epicenter of the nationwide housing bust. He didn’t hesitate to market autos to people recovering from the crisis, defending the dealership’s exercise of catering to consumers with reduced credit scores.
“How are you likely to get persons financed?” Fuccillo questioned in a 2017 Information-Push posting. “I believe we did a large amount of matters to get the neighborhood turned close to, and they in switch, helped us. Offer vehicles, that’s what we’re right here to do.”
As Southwest Florida’s most recognizable celeb, he was the person with the huge pleasant grin you just could go up to and begin chatting.
1 who did just that is North Naples resident Sue Smith, who found herself with Fuccillo at a Ruth’s Chris Steak Household satisfied hour in Estero a number of a long time back. When Smith excitedly approached him to say hello, he was gracious and form. “I was so glad to have fulfilled him,” she mentioned, “and constantly inform men and women he was a lot different in person than he appeared on Television set.” Smith strategies to return to the cafe before long and raise a toast to his memory.
Elevated on Prolonged Island, Fuccillo started out promoting vehicles soon after he graduated from Syracuse University, where by he performed tight conclusion for the school’s football team prior to graduating in 1978 with a advertising and marketing important and psychology insignificant.
“When I bought out of university, I went to a Chevy dealer in Buffalo, looking for a occupation in sales,” Fuccillo told The News-Push in the 2017 write-up. Immediately after acquiring turned down four periods, “The fourth time I went back again, they at last employed me,” he reported. Three a long time afterwards, he bought his to start with wholesale car or truck enterprise, and by 1989, opened in 1981 and his very first new shop in Adams, NY close to the Canadian border in 1989.
He then expanded westward, working his way into purchasing dealerships. He bought a bankrupt Hyundai retail store in Albuquerque, New Mexico for $25,000 (shifting his cope with to “Billy Fernandez”) then sold it two decades afterwards to Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller for $7 million, he reported.
His Adams retail store was where by he pulled off 1 of his numerous interest-finding stunts in 1996, when he invited Robbie Knievel, son of bike daredevil Evil Knievel, to leap his bike about 19 cars exterior his Adams Dealership, the similar day he marketed a file 523 cars, he said.
In 2012, he threw a Styx live performance on his Cape Coral great deal, luring in thousands of the basic rockers’ admirers and providing dozens of automobiles along the way.
That variety of showmanship made him “one of the most special guys in the overall automotive industry,” Vaughn reported in 2017. “When he does these promotions, folks come from as considerably away as Miami or Tampa. They would travel down to obtain a auto from him, even though we had other dealerships in individuals spots.”
Fuccillo also helped nonprofits at his a variety of locations. In 2019, he amazed the Harry Chapin Foodstuff Financial institution of Southwest Florida with a $100,000 donation, lauding the nonprofit for “earning a ‘HUGE’ variation in the life of individuals and people in will need domestically for more than three decades,” he said at the time.
Organizations like the Salvation Army and the yearly Big Backpack Celebration also benefitted from his generosity around the several 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 personal burial will be June 25 in Syracuse, NY..
– The Information-Push personnel author David Dorsey contributed to this story.