Gabe Mucciarelli
From Peasant Fields to Entrepreneur

by Joseph H. RADDER

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Gabrielle Mucciarelli sailed from Italy to North America in 1952. Before that, the seventeen year old Gabe had worked the fields of his father's farm in Teramo, Colledara Province, in the central part of Italy, just one and a half hours from Rome. "World War II had just ended and everybody wanted to get out of Italy," he said. One of his three sisters had already migrated to Canada. So Gabe, eager to find a new life in a promising new land left his home and family to join her. Telling a recent visitor about those days was an emotional experience for him.

His story since coming to these shores is a true Horatio Alger story. Starting with nothing but a few belongings brought with him to Canada, Gabe is now CEO of Gabe's Collision on Genesee Street near the Airport, one of this area's largest collision shops. He is also president of Village Import Auto Sales on Main Street in Williams-ville, one of western New York's foremost dealers in late-model luxury import cars.

At age 70, he is still a hard-worker. When asked what he does for recreation, he said, "Outside of work, not much." Translation: He enjoys work as if it were recreation. We did press him on this point, however, and he told us that his hobby is making wine and he enjoys going to the Buffalo Sabres games.

Gabrielle Mucciarelli was born on August 27, 1934. His father, Pierino Mucciarelli, his mother, Mafalda and his five brothers and three sisters eventually all came to Canada. He lived first in Welland, Ontario and later in Niagara Falls. Early in 1960 he attended a dance in Buffalo and met Maria Casciani. They were married on September 17, 1960 The Mucciarelli's had two children, Johanna and Jeffrey and they have one grandchild, Cristina Ippilito.

Gabe used his experience in Italy as a vegetable farmer to get his first job in Canada. "Then I went to work in a canning factory, and later started work in construction." In the early 1950s he would get the opportunity to become an auto body (collision and paint) apprentice at Taylor Dodge and DeSoto in Niagara Falls, Canada. This experience served him well. After he came to the U.S. in 1961 he worked at the Teck Garage on Forest Avenue in Buffalo, and in 1964 opened his own collision shop, Gabe's Collision, on East Delevan Avenue.

In other words, he has been in the collision business over forty years, moving from a very young apprentice to CEO of his own company, when his son, Jeffrey, became president.

After Gabe's Collision moved to Genesee Street in Cheektowaga, the shop was enlarged to one of the biggest and best equipped in western New York. The visitor is impressed by its cleanliness and the friendliness of its personnel. One feature customers enjoy is the adjacent Enterprise Rent-A-Car agency which enables customers to rent a car right on the spot to use while their collision work is being done.

In 1995, Village Import Auto Sales became available. Having had a long-time interest in cars, particularly sport cars, it was a natural fit for him. Actually, Village Import had been closed by its former owners and Gabe Mucciarelli bought the corporate assets, parts, tools and equipment etc. but not the business. As soon as the service staff learned Gabe had purchased the company assets, they persuaded him to rehire them and re-open the business. Fortunately, he was able to buy the property. Today, Village Import Auto Sales is known as the area's best source of late-model luxury import cars, sports models, SUVs and passenger cars. A visit to Village Import's lot any day will find bright and shiny like-new Jaguars, Mercedes, BMWs, Audis, and many others. For a time, a vintage Rolls Royce was on display here, which Gabe and his staff had restored at Gabe's Collision. It often surprises visitors to learn that used luxury import cars can be priced as high as six figures.

The secret of Gabe Mucciarelli's success is in his philosophy, "Not what's in it for me but what's in it for the customer."

He and his family love it here. "This is the greatest place to live that you can find," he says. And he's optimistic that Buffalo/Niagara will eventually prosper.

Horatio Alger wrote about characters whose success was achieved through self-reliance and hard work. Of course, Horatio Alger's heros were American. Somebody, someday should write a Horatio Alger story about a foreign-born person like Gabe Mucciarelli who comes to the promised land and enjoys great success through self-reliance and hard work.


Joseph H. Radder, a frequent contributor to Living Prime Time, is author of a new book, Young Jesus, the Missing Years. For more information, phone 1-888-280-7715 or visit www.istbooks.com

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