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National City, California
"I believe the most rewarding impact in my automotive career has been taking a small, unknown Subaru store from its infancy to creating a customer- and community-focused culture with a foundation for future growth for years to come."
“I believe the most rewarding impact in my automotive career has been taking a small, unknown Subaru store from its infancy to creating a customer- and community-focused culture with a foundation for future growth for years to come,” nominee Fornaca said.
A 1981 graduate of the University of San Diego High School in San Diego, California, Fornaca earned a B.S. in business administration from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California, in 1986, where he was a member of Sigma Pi fraternity.
His first experience the car business was in 1976 at age 12, when his father, Frank, brought him to work at the family’s Toyota and Lincoln Mercury dealerships. “He woke me up on the first morning of my summer vacation and said, ‘Let’s go! You’re coming to work with me this summer,’” he remembered. “I was the youngest lot porter at the stores and worked hard cleaning and detailing vehicles. But it instilled me a love for the business and an appreciation for the hard work that goes into it each and every day.”
After college, Fornaca held several different jobs, including operations manager at the Fornaca Family Bakery in San Diego, which was founded by his grandfather in 1912. In 1997, he became general manager of Frank Hyundai, entering the dealership group first established by his father and uncle in 1965. Today, Frank Motors Group encompasses three dealerships – Subaru, Toyota and Hyundai – in National City, which he owns with his brother, sister and three cousins.
Taking care of employees, customers and the community were the three principles his father established for the business, and Fornaca continues that vision today. “My father was a tremendous mentor and a great influence,” Fornaca said. “Following his values has greatly contributed to our success in the industry.”
He recently oversaw the building of a new state-of-the-art superstore for the Subaru dealership that offers two customer lounges, 40 service bays and even a dog park, as well as many other customer-focused amenities.
Fornaca also follows his father’s principle of treating employees like family by offering numerous perks to his team. The company celebrates birthdays monthly as well as offers a scholarship program for employees, their children and grandchildren in memory of longtime employee Manny Cota. There are also numerous holiday celebrations and other staff-appreciation events.
“We offer a fun and supportive culture and that allows us to attract many quality people who want to work with us for a very long time,” Fornaca said. “We also empower our employees to be philanthropic by hosting many volunteer opportunities to give back.”
Fornaca’s team even has its own Meals on Wheels route, delivering nourishment and necessities to area senior citizens. They also support Rady Children's Hospital San Diego (Heart Institute); Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County; Veterans Village of San Diego; Jackie Robinson Family YMCA (San Diego); Chula Vista Animal Care Facility; Meals on Wheels San Diego County; and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society San Diego/Hawaii Chapter, among other local and national charities.
For their good works, Frank Subaru has been awarded the prestigious Subaru Love Promise Community Commitment Award, which recognizes Subaru dealerships that make the world a better place by supporting their local communities.
Fornaca was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Dean Mansfield, president of the New Car Dealers Association San Diego County. He and his wife, Cathy, have three children.