Next week, Fuccillo Kia of Cape Coral will pick up a trophy as the top Kia dealer in the United States. Last week, owner Billy Fuccillo was honored by officials for raising awareness of the Cape and attracting visitors to it.
Mayor John Sullivan, along with several city council members, presented Fuccillo and his team with a proclamation and a plaque Sept. 4 during a VIP celebration to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the dealership.
"It was a good opportunity to let people see that he's had a tremendous impact on us," Dana Brunett, director of the city's Economic Development Office, said.
"He brings in a lot of individuals and money from other communities, which is always good for the local economy," he said.
Fuccillo called the recognition nice.
"We're trying to do our best," he said. "We're trying to make some money and spread some money back into the community."
And the community appears to be returning the favor.
"People keep coming in in droves and buying Kias," Fuccillo said. "Everybody who walks in says, 'The reason we're here is because you do so much for the community."
He estimated that he gave away between 25 and 30 free vehicles and about a half of a million dollars in cash at his Cape dealership in the first year.
"I gave away a lot of money," Fuccillo said.
And that does not include giving back to the community itself through donations to organizations like the Salvation Army and Harry Chapin Food Bank. He donated $10,000 to the Cape's Special Populations program.
"The way he runs the commercials, a lot of times he does them at another business," Brunett said.
For example, Fuccillo has promoted Tarpon Point.
"It's not just all about his business," he said. "He's also promoting other businesses in Cape Coral."
Fuccillo called getting other local businesses involved important.
"We've got to get things going," he said.
An infusion of companies with a strong financial foundation may help.
"We need to get companies to come to the Cape that are financially strong to kind of do what I'm doing," Fuccillo said. "You might have to take some punches in the beginning, but you're financially strong so you can."
His company came to town with more than two decades of experience.
"We had a background," he said. "I think we need more businesses like that."
Brunett did not believe that any other Cape business has had the long-term far-ranging impact that Fuccillo has had. Others are learning from him.
"He's setting a great example for business owners," he said.
Brunett noted the giveaways and special events, like the "huge" concert.
"The important thing to understand about those events, he understands the basic business sense," he said. "You have to spend money to make money."
Working with a municipality in one's corner also does not hurt.
"The city hasn't interfered. They've been supportive," Fuccillo said.
If he gets jammed with inventory, he can move some to another location.
"Things of that nature, they've just been very good to me," he said.
Fuccillo called the Cape dealership's first year perfect? The payoff?
"The outcome is a week from tonight, I'm picking up the trophy, the big crystal trophy," he said Thursday of the National Kia Dealer convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Fuccillo had about 7,000 new sales - double what the runner-up had.
"We're No. 1 in the Cape by a long long margin," he said.
As for the future, Fuccillo purchased 7.5 acres along U.S. 41 in Port Charlotte, about one-half mile from the border of North Port. Construction on the new dealership is expected to begin in six months, Fuccillo said.
"We are going to open in January 2014," he said. We're working with the Charlotte (County) development people now."
Closer to home, however, is a change to the Cape dealership. Sketchy on the details, Fuccillo would only call it an expansion that would create more jobs.
"Inventory is going to blow up," he said.
Fuccillo Kia of Cape Coral is at 404 N.E. Pine Island Road.
For information, call 242-7000 or visit: www.fuccillokiacapecoral.com.