With his first year in Cape Coral easily called a huge success, Billy Fuccillo has huger plans for the future and the community that embraced him.
Fuccillo, owner of Fuccillo Kia of Cape Coral and the Fuccillo Automotive Group, opened the local dealership in January 2011. It is the first one he has opened in the state of Florida - his other 21 dealerships are in New York.
"We really wanted to get some fireworks going in Southwest Florida," he said, adding that there was already a Kia dealership in Fort Myers and that the closed Saturn dealership on Pine Island Road had the right foundation.
Billy Fuccillo, owner of Fuccillo Kia of Cape Coral and the Fuccillo Automotive Group
"The Cape was an open situation," Fuccillo said.
The initial reaction from the public, however, to his "huge" advertising campaign and persona, and his even huger contests - Fuccillo is currently giving away a free house and car - was not entirely open and positive.
"I knew what to expect going in," he said of people's annoyance.
Fuccillo had encountered the same vibe opening his other dealerships.
"It was very similar," he said.
Then, like most things in life, things changed.
"It started growing on them and they became fascinated," Fuccillo said, adding that today's Cape community is "very positive" toward him.
"Everywhere I go, they thank me for coming here and putting life in the Cape," he said, noting that the economy is turning around in the city.
"There's a lot more going on in the Cape than there was when I first got here," Fuccillo said.
Asked about his dealership's huge success, he cited three things.
"Nobody can sell a Kia less than I can - the most important thing is selection, and when they (visitors) come in, the music's playing, everybody's having a good time - it's a very relaxed atmosphere," Fuccillo said.
He also noted his dealership's contributions to the community through charities. Fuccillo matched funds donated during the Red Kettle Drive after learning that The Salvation Army might not reach its goal for the year.
He donated $50,000 to the Harry Chapin Food Bank in another drive.
"When we see institutions in need, we try to contribute," Fuccillo said. "Wherever we make money, we want to contribute to that community."
And, the dealership has contributed to more than just local charities in the past year. Fuccillo Kia gave away seven vehicles for free during one contest alone, and it is currently giving away a Cape home for "Huge-a-thon 2012."
"When your nickname is huge, you have to come up with huger things throughout the course of the year," he said.
On April 2 at 7 p.m., Fuccillo will pick the Huge-a-thon winner. The house comes with a free Kia Soul in the driveway. To register for the contest, fill out a form at the dealership. There is no purchase or test drive required.
"We've been taking registrations all month," he said.
According to Fuccillo, the grand prize has a value of $160,000-$170,000 total. The home, located off of Santa Barbara Boulevard, between Pine Island Road and Veterans Parkway, contains three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
As for the Cape dealership, he has huge plans for it in the future.
Fuccillo is working on building a new, larger vehicle service center on the property. He expects to break ground in July or August and hopes to have it completed by the end of the year. The project could cost about $1 million.
"We want to make sure we can service the amount of cars that we're selling," he said. "Take care of the customer, and they'll take care of you."
The current, smaller service center will become a quick lube center.
Fuccillo's dealership offers new Kias and a variety of pre-owned makes.
"We're the largest Kia dealer in the United States, with the largest inventory," he said. "They (visitors) can expect to see 1,000 new Kias. Pre-owned vehicles - we have about 300 to 350, 350 to 400 at all times."
Fuccillo has been a Kia dealer for about seven years.
"I think we promote the brand really strongly," he said.
"Because of the strong warranty (of the vehicles) and value during the economic recovery years, that's what the brand stands for and that's why it's so hot right now," Fuccillo said.
Fuccillo Kia of Cape Coral is at 404 N.E. Pine Island Road.
For information, contact the dealership at (239) 242-7000.