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Billy Fuccillo Jr. powers his own auto empire

The son of mega-car dealer Billy Fuccillo is opening dealerships and selling cars—his way.

Last week, the 23-year-old Fuccillo Jr. opened his second dealership, Fuccillo Volkswagen in Schenectady.

The franchise, located at 2242 Central Ave. across the street from his father’s Fuccillo Hyundai, is Fuccillo Jr.’s second dealership. Last August, he opened Fuccillo Nissan of Clay, near Syracuse. His company operates as BFJ Enterprises.

I spoke with the younger Fuccillo this week by phone while he was tending to his Clay dealership. He tells me he has other acquisitions in the works, but is not able to discuss them yet.

As a youngster, Fuccillo Jr. spent many years learning the trade while working at his father’s dealerships. Today, Fuccillo Sr.’s Fuccillo Automotive Group includes 26 stores in New York and Florida with combined annual revenue of almost $1 billion.

After graduating in 2011 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he majored in political science and Spanish, Fuccillo Jr. managed his father’s Fuccillo Hyundai and Kia stores in Schenectady before opening up his own dealerships.

Fuccillo Sr., who is known for his catch phrase, “H-U-G-E,” once told me for one of our 10 Minutes With interviews that he saw a lot of potential in the car business for “Junior’s” friends, many of whom were college graduates working in mediocre-paying jobs.

“Why would they go work for Enterprise-Rent-A-Car when they could start at our company for a lot more?” Fuccillo pondered during that interview.

His son, who crammed in quite a few marketing, accounting and advertising electives while attending Chapel Hill, made that philosophy part of his business model.

He says his Nissan dealership, which is near Syracuse, has been the automaker’s second-highest U.S. performer for five of the 12 months it has been open. It mainly operates with people who have never been in the car business before

Fuccillo Jr. is applying that same philosophy to his Volkswagen dealership.

“I think that’s really what helped us. We’re no pressure. It’s a fresh feeling. We’re kinda like going into an Apple store, where we want to show you all the cool features. It’s especially important with brands like Volkswagen because it’s a really tech-advanced brand,” says Fuccillo Jr., who commutes often between his stores in Schenectady and Syracuse.

He plans to break ground in the next six months on a 27,000-square-foot Volkswagen showroom that will replace the existing one.

Fuccillo Sr. says he expected nothing less from his son.

“He’s very talented. He’s really very qualified to do this,” he told me in a separate phone interview.

Fuccillo Jr. closed on the Schenectady Volkswagen dealership on July 23, purchasing it from Long Island-based Dibre Auto Group. Dibre had recently bought the franchise from Langan Automotive Group.

Rather than doing TV commercials, which have been the staple of his father’s business, Fuccillo Jr. is investing in radio ads.

“My Dad does a great job on television. Me, I do radio,” he says.

The pair will share one familiar thing: The “H-U-G-E” slogan that is the hallmark of each of Fuccillo Sr.’s commercials.

Says the younger Fuccillo: “It’s recognizable to everyone.”

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Huge promotion floats customers boats



In December, more than 3,000 customers cruised to Belize, Cozumel and Grand Cayman island aboard the Navigator of the Seas.

Billy Fuccillo doesn't do anything small, including sales promotions. The owner of Fuccillo Automotive Group has raised his own marketing bar with a behemoth of a promotional event: a free, six-day cruise for every customer who buys or leases a Kia from one of his Florida Kia stores during an annual late-winter sales event.

"It's a tremendous customer-loyalty builder," says Fuccillo, a former tight end at Syracuse University who projects a larger-than-life persona that dwarfs even his commanding 6-foot-4-inch, 270-pound presence. "Customers come back every two or three years to buy a new Kia because they want to go on the trip."

To illustrate the effectiveness of the annual Cruise with Huge promotion, Fuccillo recalls a customer who came in last year to trade in a 2016 Optima with only 800 miles for a 2017 Optima. "He told my used-car sales manager that he and his wife had dinner with me on the cruise," he told Automotive News. "He said they had such a good time that they wanted to go on another cruise and party with me again. Now that's not the case for everyone who takes the cruise, but it definitely keeps bringing back a lot of customers.“

‘The whole boat‘

The most recent cruise was Fuccillo Automotive's sixth. In December, some 3,200 customers boarded the Navigator of the Seas for a trip to Belize, Cozumel and Grand Cayman island. "We reserved the whole boat," Fuccillo says.

The price tag? A cool $1.5 million, says Fuccillo, who's well known for his oft-heard (and sometimes parodied) TV commercials in Florida markets, featuring his trademark slogan, "It's H-U-U-U-G-E-J-A!"

Fuccillo Group owns 30 dealerships in upstate New York and Florida. The New York stores sell Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Ford, Chevrolet, Buick, Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Kia, Genesis, Subaru, Mazda, Lincoln, Volkswagen, Nissan and Toyota brands. In Florida, the group has two Nissan and three Kia dealerships, with a fourth Kia dealership on the way. The Florida Kia dealerships alone sold 13,413 new Kias and 3,234 used vehicles in 2017.

Fuccillo is no stranger to over-the-top, high-visibility promotions. In 1996, Robbie Knievel — the son of the late, world-famous daredevil Evel Knievel — jumped a motorcycle over 19 cars at a Fuccillo dealership in Adams, N.Y., northeast of Rochester. The nationally televised promotion spurred the sale of more than 500 cars, Fucccillo says.


"The whole ship gets transformed into our exclusive boat. And when you check into your room, you get a tote bag filled with [Fuccillo] T-shirts, hats and other items. ... this is no Mickey Mouse deal.“

"I'm everywhere — radio, direct mail, TV," he says, noting that the Florida Kia dealerships spend about $2.5 million a year on marketing. "I'm really heavy on electronic advertising, as in drive-you-nuts heavy. We're really in customers' faces. Our advertising is not your standard car advertising — it's on edge. But whether you like it or you don't like it, you're always going to remember it."

Fuccillo started the Cruise with Huge promotion in 2012. The cruises usually are held in early December. To qualify, customers must purchase a car during the annual sales event in January, February and March, timed to coincide with the influx of retirees who winter in southwestern Florida.

The promotion started out with small cruise ships and gradually moved up to the giant Navigator of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean International vessel that's one of the largest cruise ships in the world, capable of carrying 3,286 passengers.

On board, first-timers who might expect what Fuccillo calls a "dinky-donky boat" are in for a surprise. "They don't always understand that this is the real deal," he says.

Along with providing top-level entertainment, Fuccillo Kia branding is in full force everywhere, from banners hung high to lettering on the bottom of a pool. The Fuccillo name is emblazoned on glassware, slot machines and the felt coverings on the blackjack tables.


"The whole ship gets transformed into our exclusive boat," he says. "And when you check into your room, you get a tote bag filled with [Fuccillo] T-shirts, hats and other items. We don't fool around ... this is no Mickey Mouse deal.“

Why is the promotion so popular? For starters, Fuccillo points to customer demographics. Southwestern Florida is either a permanent or temporary home for a large contingent of retirees who have the time to take cruises.

Then there's the sheer value of the trip. "They're effectively getting a $4,000 value just by purchasing a new vehicle," he says.

Fuccillo finds the cruises rewarding beyond increased car sales. It dovetails with his belief that selling cars must include a personal touch that extends beyond websites and social media.

"The Internet is cold," he says. "It seems like it's nothing more than a race to the bottom — who has the lowest price. I'm not sold on that kind of marketing.

"Nobody wants to talk to anyone anymore," he continues. "But it's wonderful to mingle with people who buy cars from you. You can't have cocktails and dinner with customers on the Internet. But you can do it on a cruise."

In Fuccillo's eyes, that's, well, huge.

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Fuccillo Automotive Group donates $219,600 for domestic violence awareness organizations during the month of October. One-hundred dollars was donated to any new or pre-owned vehicle that was purchased or leased. They are:

Equinox, Inc., in Albany, received $78,900.

Vera House, Inc., in Syracuse received $59,400.

Victims Assistance Center of Jefferson County, Inc., in Watertown received $32,200.

Sojourner House at PathStone, in Rochester received $27,500.

Buffalo City Mission, in Buffalo received $21,600.

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You know him for his "huge" car sales,but Fuccillo Automotive Group owner Billy Fuccillo is known to one Florida war veteran as something of a savior.
Gordon Page, an 85-year-old Korean War Veteran, made news last week when his home where he and his wife care for three other vets was flooded, WIVB-TVreported.
Fuccillo saw the story, felt a connection to Page, and decided to help by pledging to pay for almost all of the repairs required.
"My dad's 92 now, so I know a little about what went on way back, especially with war veterans," Fuccillo told WFLA-TV in Florida, where he owns several dealerships.
In total, Fuccillo, wrote a check for $30,000. $25,000 of that came out of his own pocket, and $5,000 came from donations by Fuccillo employees.
"Before you put your head on the pillow at night, it's always good to make sure you do the right thing for people," Fuccillo said. "The Lord has blessed me. I say my prayers every night. He's letting me live a dream."
Fuccillo presented the check to Susan Draves earlier this week at his dealership in Wesley Chapel. Draves is helping coordinate the donations and repair work at Page's home.
"It's amazing that he was so generous and so thoughtful and really cares," said Draves, who also thanked Fuccillo's employees.
The bill is nearly $15,000 so far, but a number of people have turned out to offer money, services, furniture and other donations. Draves set up a GoFundMeaccount where anyone can donate.
Page and his wife are overwhelmed and grateful towards Fuccillo and everyone else who has supported them since the flood.
"We cry. We cry," Page told WFLA. "To have a stranger to help, is wonderful."

Author Bio:
Billy Fuccillo is president of fuccillo automotive group  Syracuse New York .  Fuccillo Automotive Group is the largest automobile dealership in the state of New York.

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Xavier Villarreal, who helped build Fuccillo Kia in Cape Coral into the world’s bestselling Kia dealership, said he mutually parted ways with owner Billy Fuccillo.

Villarreal, 36 and until July 1 the only general manager at Fuccillo Kia, is three weeks into his search for a new job. The 2000 Fort Myers High School graduate is pursuing multiple car dealership opportunities in Southwest Florida, around the state, and across the country. He was traveling to Los Angeles for job interviews Thursday.

“The hardest part wasn’t leaving Billy,” said Villarreal, who had been in the role since the dealership opened in December 2010 off Pine Island Road. “It was leaving my staff. That really was the hardest part.”

Villarreal said Fuccillo recently had promoted him, but the promotion did not include their agreed-upon pay raise, Villareal said. Fuccillo could not be reached for comment.

Fuccillo Kia announced Carl Rosciti as the new general manager. He declined to comment.

“The bottom line is, he couldn’t afford to pay me anymore,” Villarreal said of Fuccillo. “We had agreed on a certain amount. Unfortunately, that didn’t pan out.

“I’m very grateful for Mr. Fuccillo and the company and the opportunities they have given me. I’ve built a reputation for taking care of my staff and selling a lot of cars. It’s opened up a lot of doors. It was just time. It was time for me to go.”

Villarreal, a high school football standout at Fort Myers, was inducted into the school’s football Hall of Fame in 2015.

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Car dealership owner Billy Fuccillo is in a “huge” trademark dispute with a competitor.

Fuccillo, known for his advertisements across the Tampa Bay area, is suing Trent Silver in federal court, alleging that he engaged in "cyberpiracy" when Silver registered the domain "" on and used it to redirect customers to the Century Kia website.

Silver's use of the domain name was "willful, deliberate and in bad faith," according to the lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Florida, Tampa division. Fuccillo, who owns Fuccillo Automotive Group, operates Fuccillo Kia in Wesley Chapel while his rival, Century Kia, is only 10 miles away, the lawsuit said.

In his lawsuit, Fuccillo said the battle has been going on since March 27, when he submitted a complaint to arbitration.

According to the lawsuit, shortly after Fuccillo filed that arbitration claim, Silver "contacted Fuccillo Kia in Wesley Chapel offering to sell the domain name to [Fuccillo] further evidencing his bad faith in having registered it."

A three-member arbitration panel decided in Fuccillo's favor on May 13, ordering Silver to transfer the domain name to Fuccillo. The panel, in its decision, noted that Silver bought the domain name on Aug. 29, 2006.

Silver, in a telephone interview, said he did transfer the domain name back to Fuccillo and doesn't understand why he is being sued. The site currently leads to Fuccillo Automotive Group.

Silver said he regrets what happened. He said that he bought the name in the middle of the night. "I bid on it and I won it and then next thing I know I have this domain dispute." He added that Century Kia had nothing to do with the matter, adding: "I really wasn't trying to do anything malicious."

In his lawsuit, Fuccillo has asked the court to permanently block Silver from using the domain name and other similar words or images. He is also asking the court to block Silver from selling or offering the domain name for sale. Fuccillo also asked that the court order Silver's registration of the domain name be forfeited and all rights to it be transferred to the car magnate as well as unspecified monetary damages. He is also demanding that Silver delete the domain name from any computer files and hand over any revenues and profits he may have gotten by using the domain name.

Lawyers for Fuccillo didn't immediately respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit, which includes claims for cyberpiracy and unfair competition under federal trademark law as well as violations of Florida's deceptive and unfair trade practices law and the state's right of publicity law. The lawsuit called the use of Fuccillo's name "wanton, intentional and reckless and with complete disregard to plaintiff Billy Fuccillo's rights in and to his name and persona."

Known for the catchphrase in his commercials that say, "It's gonna be huge," Fuccillo states in his lawsuit that he spends up to $30 million annually on advertising, "virtually all of which prominently features the Fuccillo mark and most of which further associates the auto dealership with Billy Fuccillo." He uses the domain name ""

Fuccillo, who owns one of the largest auto dealerships in the country, operates 26 retail locations in New York and Florida with annual revenues of nearly $1 billion, according to court papers.

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