Car dealer

Cape Coral Kia’s top-selling car dealership Billy Fuccillo has passed away

A decade after Southwest Florida first felt its oversized presence, legendary car dealer Billy Fuccillo has passed away at age 65.

CNY Central reported that the Syracuse Auto Dealers Association announced Fuccillo’s death on Friday morning in an email to members.

Known as a car selling legend by Kia executive Percy Vaughn and many others, Fuccillo made sure to help others along the way, Vaughan said.

“Billy was an innovator. He did things that other car dealers dream of. He did these commercials, but he always gave back to the community for sure, “he said.” Billy was a legend, man. There will never be another Billy. “

In March, his Cape Coral Fuccillo Kia sold for $ 13.1 million, ending a blazing era marked by rock concerts, cruise giveaways and torn rental contracts.

Billy Fuccillo, owner of Fuccillo Automotive Group, and Caroline Renfro attend a party on June 22, 2019 at Fuccillo Kia off Pine Island Road in Cape Coral.  That day, the two helped make the kind of TV commercials the two were known for in Southwest Florida.

Fuccillo’s health had declined over the past year and he sold his Cape Coral home last year to Lee County Commissioner and the family trust of former Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane for 2 , $ 25 million.

Its Pine Island Road Kia dealership first made it famous in Southwest Florida, along with its commercials featuring its “Huuu-ja!” Brand. and pitch partner Caroline Renfro. In just a few years, the Korean company has recognized its Kia dealership as the best seller in the world.

Arriving in southwest Florida still reeling from the Great Recession, he rolled the dice on a property that housed a bankrupt Saturn dealer, long before the Pine Island Road boom, when Cape Coral was the epicenter. of the national real estate crisis. He didn’t hesitate to sell cars to those recovering from the crisis, defending the dealership’s practice of dealing with customers with low credit scores.

“How are you going to get people funded? Fuccillo asked in a News-Press article from 2017. “I think we’ve done a lot to turn the community around, and in turn, they’ve helped us. Selling cars is what we are for. are here. “

As Southwest Florida’s most recognizable celebrity, he was the guy with the big, friendly smile that you could just go over and start chatting.

One of them is North Naples resident Sue Smith, who met up with Fuccillo at a happy hour at a Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Estero a few years ago. When Smith enthusiastically approached him to say hello, he was courteous and kind. “I was so happy to have met him,” she said, “and to always tell people that he was very different in person than what he appeared on television.” Smith plans to return to the restaurant soon and toast her memory.

Previously:End of an Era: Cape Coral’s Fuccillo Kia sells $ 13.1 million to LMP Automotive

Following:Billy Fuccillo sells Cape Coral luxury home to Lee County Commissioner-elect Kevin Ruane

Raised on Long Island, Fuccillo began selling cars after graduating from Syracuse University, where he played for the school’s football team before graduating in 1978 with a major in marketing and a minor in psychology.

“When I got out of college, I went to a Chevrolet dealership in Buffalo looking for a sales job,” Fuccillo told The News-Press in the 2017 article. refused four times, “the fourth time I went back they finally hired me,” he said. Three years later he bought his first wholesale car business and in 1989 opened in 1981 and his first new store in Adams, NY near the Canadian border in 1989.

It then spread westward, making its way towards the purchase of concessions. He bought a bankrupt Hyundai store in Albuquerque, New Mexico for $ 25,000 (changing its name to “Billy Fernandez”), then sold it two years later to Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller for 7 million dollars, he said.

Following:Billy Fuccillo and Kia Soul transform driving in Southwest Florida

Following:It’s huge: Billy Fuccillo surprises food bank with $ 100,000 donation

It was in his Adams store that he performed one of his many stunts in 1996, when he invited Robbie Knievel, son of motorcycle daredevil Evil Knievel, to jump his bike on 19 cars outside. from his Adams dealership, the same day he sold a record 523 cars, he said.

In 2012, he hosted a Styx concert at his Cape Coral grounds, drawing thousands of classic rocker fans and selling dozens of cars along the way.

That kind of staging has made him “one of the most unique guys in the entire auto industry,” Vaughn said in 2017. “When he does these promotions, people come from as far away as Miami. or Tampa. car from him, although we had other dealers in those areas. “

Fuccillo has also helped non-profit organizations in its various locations. In 2019, he surprised the Harry Chapin Food Bank in Southwest Florida with a donation of $ 100,000, praising the nonprofit for “making a ‘HUGE’ difference in the lives of people and communities. families in need locally for over three decades, ”he said at the time. .

Organizations like the Salvation Army and the annual Big Backpack event have also benefited from his generosity over the years.

Billy Fuccillo is survived by his wife, Cindy, and his son, Billy Jr., who is the president of the Fuccillo Automotive Group. Her funeral and private burial will take place on June 25 in Syracuse, NY.

– News-Press editor David Dorsey contributed to this story.

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