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after serving in the Army, Joe Nicolai started his first business venture in Hawaii from the ground up by leasing a dirt lot at 1212 Ala Moana Boulevard. Nicolai, the son of an Italian auto craftsman-technician, a car and motorcycle racer who’d also won distinction as the top West Coast salesman at Ford Motor Co. – poured his skills and energy into a fledgling enterprise.
By foregoing luxuries like a home, working 18-hour days and hitting the airwaves with Honolulu’s first used-car TV commercials, the budding entrepreneur reasoned he could make a dent in what was then a low-key car-buying town. “It was kind of a Sleepy Hollow,” Nicolai says.
“I was prepared to work harder and to sacrifice a lot more than what I felt the dealers at the time were doing.”
Today Nicolai’s businesses include car franchises for Audi, Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Bentley, Lamborghini, Lotus, Jaguar, Land Rover, Chevrolet; and motorcycle franchises for Harley-Davidson®, KTM, Kawasaki, Honda, Yamaha, BMW, Ducati, Triumph, Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Vespa and Piaggio.