Michael Ianelli, center in gray jacket, with his partner Jeffrey Weiner on his right, with their Toyota City staff celebrating their first anniversary as the new owners of Toyota City of Rye Neck in May.
BY TOM MCDERMOTT
When Michael Ianelli, co-owner of Toyota City in Rye Neck, was growing up in Brooklyn, he knew what he wanted to do: make people happy by selling them automobiles. So, when he and his business partner, Jeffrey Weiner, took the reins of a longtime Boston Post Road Toyota City dealership last May in the midst of the pandemic, he was undaunted. “I started as a porter at 15-16 at a Toyota/Subaru dealership, and did every job there was: stock boy, used car manager, ran the showroom, and became a Group VP.”
Ianelli is, well, a driven man, and his enthusiasm is infectious. He will talk about cars, of course, if you let him – he also owns Nissan Hyundai dealerships – but his real passion is family. “Family operations will always do better,” he says, “My wife, four sons work with me, a niece, and two brothers-in-law. With family you can never go wrong, and you pass it on.”
June means graduation time, and we asked Ianelli what parents, grandparents, and grads are looking for: “First, Toyota has a $500 rebate for college grads. Customers are also looking for safety, and our suite of safety features is all inclusive; the car practically stops for you when it senses potential trouble, even when changing lanes.” According to Ianelli, Corollas and Rav4s are popular with grads. “Both come in hybrid models, have easy leases, and offer great economy,” he reports.
Ianelli used much of the last year when he was stuck at home to plan out the business. “Everything revolves around transparency, no hidden fees, no games; efficiency, ‘a serious investment in technology around service’; and respect, customers are treated as family; that’s how we’re different.” He also believes in hiring well, paying more for a “well-bred” employee.
Ianelli reads every comment about his business on social media and responds personally. “I like our customers; everyone should look up dealers on Google and Facebook before they buy. We’re a 4.7 on Google, but they should have us as at 4.8!”
As we said, the man is driven, but also fun. He has installed a carnival wheel in the showroom, as well as a bubble machine. Customers get to spin and possibly win dinner at Enzo’s or 25 North, lunch at Walter’s. “We believe in supporting the whole community,” states the owner.