The man who has probably sold cars long enough to give Jimmy Pattison a run for his money has officially announced his retirement—at 90 years of age.
Frank Affettuso, the long-time owner of Southside Nissan—a fixture at 290 Southwest Marine Drive for 44 years—addressed coworkers and business partners gathered on the showroom floor Tuesday (July 12) for a brief but emotional farewell.
“If it weren’t for all of you, I wouldn’t be here today,” Affettuso said after taking the podium.
After four-and-a-half decades, the dealership, located a block from the new Marine Gateway urban town centre in South Vancouver, is getting a new owner: the Dilawri Group of Companies.
The Dilawri group—one of Canada’s largest retail-automobile concerns, with 58 franchised dealerships in five provinces and more than3,000 employees, according to its website—is owned and run by Ajay Dilawri and two brothers. Ajay Dilawri spoke with quiet enthusiasm at Affettuso's leave-taking.
“Like him [Frank], we believe very strongly in giving back to our communities. This is the belief that we have in our dealerships across the country, and we will continue to do so in the future,” Dilawri said. “I’m excited to work with each and every one of you and look forward to building on the solid foundation you’ve created here under Frank’s leadership.”
“Ajay, he’s tough, but I think I like him," Affettuso said after Dilawri spoke. "And I haven’t heard a bad word against Dilawri, so I’m sure you’re in good hands.
“And if he doesn’t look after ya, I’ll come down and kick his ass," he said with a laugh, adding: “Not really.”
Affettuso's business career began before he was 10 years old, selling Liberty and True Story magazines (both of which gained large followings during the Great Depression) for a penny and a penny-and-a-half, respectively.
The nonagenarian, a lifetime Vancouverite, recalled that while he attended high school at John Oliver secondary he would play in the vacant lot that would later become his dealership. Affettuso dropped out of school before Grade 10 to work as a tractor mechanic—which, ironically, he hated.
“I don’t envy any of you guys working on these cars,” Affettuso joked, recalling his own time as a grease monkey and mentioning the growing complexities of car design.
“It’s hard to leave,” Affetuso said, addressing his coworkers.
“I could cry right now, but I’m not going to,” he added.
Dilawri’s acquisition of Southside Nissan places it alongside other local dealerships it owns, such as Porsche Centre Vancouver and Volvo Vancouver.