Your family has been in the automotive industry for over 60 years as one of Chicago’s premier auto groups. What is your earliest memory of the Chicago Auto Show?
Being in the car business all of my life, I was kind of born and raised in it. I’d say probably right around 9 years old my dad started taking me. I would run around with all of my buddies looking at all of the cars like everybody else.
Everyone probably wanted to be buddies with you as a kid getting passes to the auto show!
They did and they still do! [Laughs]
The 2016 Acura RDX world debut was here at the Chicago Auto Show this month. What new technology feature are you looking forward to most?
Believe it or not, I’m very excited for the Jewel Eye™ LED headlights. It doesn’t sound like a big thing but you can see the Jewel Eye™ headlights from a half mile away and you know it’s an Acura. Now when you’re driving down the road you’re saying, “That’s an Acura, that’s an Acura,” because of the way they light up at night. Acura did a really good job designing those.
Why Chicago for the big reveal?
I think a lot more vehicles should be placed in the Chicago Auto Show as a release. I think the Detroit Auto Show is looked at more as an international show but as far as a consumer show Chicago is one of the top in the country. The platform, the events and the actual facility is a lot bigger. It’s such a great stage because it’s such a great city to host. We’re hoping they launch more vehicles in the future at the Chicago show.
Best joy ride you’ve been on?
We are big on customer service at the dealership and one of the things we offer are shoe shines. Back in ’95 our shoe shine guy asked for a ride in the NSX. I said, “Get in the car, let’s go!” We got on the tollway and I got pulled over. The NSX was ultimately put on a flatbed and taken back to the dealership. But the look on his face when he was in that car was priceless.
Can we assume you were pumped to see the NSX supercar revealed last month in Detroit?
Yeah, everybody is very excited about it. The anticipation was pretty high. There has been more calls in the last three weeks than I’ve ever seen in the history of our store about the NSX. I got word that it’s the most researched vehicle after the Detroit Auto Show as far as YouTube views, blog posts and interest in a vehicle that Acura or Honda has ever seen. So the anticipation is there, we are very excited.
How is the camaraderie within the Acura community unique?
I’ve been with Acura since ’95 and we’ve built up a great customer base and great friends. Back in the day with the Legends and the NSX it created many loyalists because of the reliability of the engines and the precision crafted performance. It has developed such a great community, lots of blogs. The neat thing is that generation after generation you’re starting to see the kids realize what their parents are driving and decide that they’ve made smart decisions and they want to make the same smart decisions.
Give us the truth, is working with family ever difficult?
Family business is tough as everybody probably knows. I’m very fortunate to have a father who is a very aggressive businessman who is always looking for the next level. He’s a Type A personality, I’m a Type A and my older brother is the same. We kind of feed off of each other and over time we’ve learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We’ve learned how to work with each other and we’re very successful at it. Most family businesses don’t make it past the second generation [and we’re on the fourth generation.] I see our family business going a lot further down the road. It’s a lot of fun but it’s also challenging. When we are outside of work we don’t talk about work.
Best piece of advice from your father?
Loose lips sink ships. I’ve gotten a lot of advice from him over time. He’s not a man of many words. He’s more like, “You figure it out,” and he kind of sits back and monitors you. I was overly aggressive when I was younger and the things I’ve grabbed from him through being in business and being aggressive is that loose lips sink ships. Be careful about what you say and how you say it.
How does competition inspire you?
It keeps me up at night. It created the person I am today, along with our family and family business. Competition is what has taken our family business to another level. Everybody wants to measure, everybody wants to get ahead of the average and we are one of those family businesses where we want to take it to a whole other level of what the benchmark is so competition is everything. We’ve learned over the years how to control it because it used to keep me up at night. I was worried about what everybody else was doing. I had to worry about what I was doing so I think that’s when I became a little bit more successful when I started thinking, “You know what, you can only control your own destiny, you can’t control anybody else.”
What is something people don’t know about the Chicago Auto Show you can tell us from your inside perspective?
I don’t think a lot of people know that all of the manufacturers are putting their best foot forward with their new products. Every year it’s so innovative and exciting and there is so much energy. I don’t know if a lot of the consumers know what First Look for Charity is doing to raise well over $2 million a year for 18 local charities. Every year the show is becoming more of an international platform like Detroit. I think we are getting closer and closer to being just as big, if not bigger, than Detroit.
Where are you driving when you get your hands on the 2016 RDX?
I’m a mountain guy so I’m going to the mountains.
And when you want a good meal in Chicago?
KIRSTEN MICCOLI PHOTOGRAPHY / A DRINK WITH
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