By Kevin Canessa Jr.
Frank Pezzolla Sr. probably never thought that when he opened his business around 1930 with just a handful of employees, that decades later, what was once a mechanic’s garage would turn into one of the most successful GMC dealerships in America with in excess of 100 employees.
But that’s precisely what has happened — and now, some 84 years later — the Lyndhurst-based business continues to thrive, and people from all over the area have chosen Frank’s GMC as their dealership of choice when the time comes for a new vehicle.
For the first seven years of operation, Frank’s was just a garage. But everything changed when in 1937, Pezzolla was granted a GMC franchise. As the business grew, so did the need for space — and in 1978, the Pezzolla family moved the dealership from its original Ridge Road location to where it’s been ever since — on Orient Way.
But what separates Frank’s from many other GMC dealers is that Frank’s has a strong focus on trucks. You’ll notice that the moment you arrive at the showroom.
And while much has changed over the years, there are a few constants that very few businesses can claim: It’s still owned by the Pezzolla family and their commitment to customers is unparalleled.
General Manager Frank “Frankie” Pezzolla has been part of the family business for more than four decades. He started working there while he was in high school, sweeping floors and stocking parts. And now, as the general manager, he oversees a business that has thrived despite GM’s tough economic times that hit several years ago when the entire auto industry nearly collapsed.
“I’ve been in sales, at least part-time, since 1978,” Pezzolla said. “Back then I went to my uncle (current Observer General Manager) Bobby (Pezzolla) and told him I wanted to sell. And over that time, I’d like to think we’ve done it right. While much of the rest of the industry suffered, we were still doing well.”
Indeed they were. And still are.
But how did they do it?
It’s pretty simple, Pezzolla said.
“We treat everyone like family,” he said. “When you do that, you succeed. I’ve got a lot of employees who have been here with me for 40 years or more, including one of my sales managers, Chris (Koumoulis). I couldn’t do this without him or the rest of my family.”
There are quite a few other Pezzollas still working at Frank’s, including Frankie’s dad Frank Pezzolla Jr., the company’s president; and Frankie’s brothers Michael, who is in charge of the parts department, and Joseph, the service manager.
“And my dad is still involved almost every day,” Pezzolla said. “He’s comes in almost every day and still has a very active role in what we do here.”
More than what you see
If you’ve ever driven along Orient Way, and have seen Frank’s, chances are you’ve noticed the inventory of personal trucks and vehicles sitting out front or inside the newly remodeled showroom. But what you don’t readily see are the commercial trucks Frank’s also sells that are out back and away from the public eye.
“So in essence, we have two businesses — the vehicles people see, and a commercial side,” Pezzolla said. “People don’t see all the big trucks, like the ones you see going in and out of New York City. But we absolutely have a freight line. We sell Hinos and Isuzu trucks — and that’s known as Frank’s Truck Center.”
Pezzolla says the commercial end of the business played a huge role in the company staying afloat during the economic downturn.
“It kept us going,” he said. “They were really our bread and butter. And what is great is that often, the people who come in to buy our commercial trucks often buy from us for their personal vehicle needs. Everyone needs a personal vehicle, right? Sometimes, we see five GMCs sitting in their driveways — and we love that.”
Pezzolla credits his father, his brothers and his uncle Bobby for really giving him the impetus for success at Frank’s. And he hopes it continues for many years down the line.
“Bobby was probably the best salesman I’ve ever seen, and he taught me so much,” Pezzolla said. “And dad taught me so much too. We’ve been very fortunate. And I know I am grateful.”
Frank’s GMC and Frank’s Truck Center is located at 325 Orient Way, Lyndhurst. For additional information, call 201- 806-1466 for sales, 201-806-1464 for service or visit them online at www.FranksGMC.net.
Showroom hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Thursday; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays. Frank’s is closed on Sundays. Service hours are 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Thursday; and 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays. Parts are open 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Thursday; 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays; and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturdays.
For more information about Frank’s Truck Center, call 877-469-6304.