What for nearly a decade had been the world’s best-selling Billy Fuccillo and Kia dealership near Pine Island Road in Cape Coral is sold out for the second time in two years.
The late Billy Fuccillo’s company sold its Cape Coral and Port Charlotte dealerships for a combined $36 million in 2021. West Palm Beach-based LMP Automotive Holdings said Monday it would liquidate and dissolve assets between 115 and 126 million dollars. shareholders, CEO Sam Tawfik said in a press release. He could not be reached for comment.
These assets include Kia dealerships located at 404 NE Pine Island Road in Cape Coral and 202 Tamiami Trail in Port Charlotte. Those dealerships will have new owners again, likely by October, Tawfik said. They will remain open in the meantime.
Fuccillo, who died at age 65 in June 2021, opened the Cape Coral dealership in 2011, resurrecting it from a dormant Saturn location.
Fuccillo was well known for his freebies, cars and cruises at one time even having the rock band Styx play a gig at the dealership, and popularized his one-word catchphrase “Huuugja” with frequent appearances on television and on the radio. His enduring presence came to an abrupt end after he suffered a stroke in the fall of 2019.
LMP Cape Coral KOCC LLC paid $13.1 million for Fuccillo’s Cape Coral car lot in March 2021, ownership records show.
The new concept and ownership group just didn’t work, said Jay Ganzi, managing partner of another car dealership near Pine Island Road, Cape Coral Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram. Ganzi, who like Fuccillo gravitates to the airwaves with frequent TV commercials, compared LMP’s methods to Carvana, which is heavy on online sales.
“You can’t go from rock and roll performing like Billy was to doing what they did. You can’t duplicate a caption,” Ganzi said. “There will never be another Michael Jordan. There will never be another Kobe Bryant. They were trying to do it the Carvana way. It’s not going to work in this town.
“We like the personal touch. Everyone in the automotive business should be treated like a customer, not a client. Nobody is just a number. You are part of our family. It may sound like a cliché or a sales pitch. But that’s how I feel.
Given that Fuccillo has sold so many Kias over a decade, it would make sense for the Cape Coral Kia dealership to continue selling the Korean brand, Ganzi said. It remains to be seen who will sell them. But if it finds the right owner, the dealer could get back on track.
“I think Kia is a must for Cape Coral because there are so many Kias in service,” Ganzi said. “You go back 10 years of registered cars, and Kias in Southwest Florida are going to be a huge number. You need to find a dealer who cares about the people of Cape Coral. I think you have to find someone who has the same mindset as me. I would like to be that person. But I would never leave my group, and I would never leave my partners.
LMP will sell four other dealerships, all based in Beckley, West Virginia, as part of the liquidation process, Tawfik said.
Kia’s general managers of Cape Coral and Port Charlotte could not be reached for comment.
“The Board and management team all believe that, given the diversified nature of our portfolio, pursuing multiple transactions with different potential buyers of assets or groups of assets presents the best opportunity to maximize shareholder value,” Tawfik said in the LMP statement.