The Niello Company started with a man in possession of exceptional talent. Louis Niello understood automobiles. He knew how they worked and how to fix them. The son of Italian immigrants settling in San Francisco during the 1900s, Louis Niello displayed an unusually high mechanical aptitude by age 10. He loved cars and anything associated with them. He raced motorcycles, worked as a chauffeur and eventually landed a job as a mechanic at a San Francisco Packard distributor, Earle C. Anthony, which serviced and sold to California, Nevada and Utah.
This Packard distributor is where Louis Niello got his foot into the door of the automotive industry. He was promoted from Mechanic to Shop Foreman, where he handled the shop operations of the distributor. Louis’ career in the automotive industry was interrupted by WWI. He was stationed at Naval Air Station, North Island Coronado in San Diego as a Motor Machinist Mate 1st Class. This Naval Air Station was of historical significance, as it housed the 1st aircraft carrier, Lexington.
After the war, Louis returned to Earle C. Anthony as the Shop Foreman. It was there he would meet his future business partner, Mr. August Laurent. The two of them, together, left the Packard distributor and opened a small independent shop in San Francisco working as Packard specialists in maintenance and repairs…the time was 1921. America’s infinite passion for the automobile had entered a new phase. For many, it was no longer about buying a car to drive but about buying a car for the experience. In no time, the young Packard dealership on Ellis Avenue quickly added the famed luxury line of Pierce-Arrow. The addition of this brand also foreshadowed what would become a Niello hallmark: not looking at what’s on the road, but what’s coming down it.
The Company Moves to Sacramento
Louis Niello’s son, Richard Niello Sr., attended St. Vincent de Paul grammar school, Lowell High School and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1943. From there, he graduated from Northwestern University as an Ensign and served abroad on a Destroyer Escort in the 3rd Fleet in the South Pacific Theater during WWII. After serving in the Navy, Richard joined his father at the Packard & Pierce Arrow dealership he owned and operated in San Francisco.
Richard Niello Sr. took the reins of the family business shortly thereafter.
At that time, Pierce-Arrow was out of production and Packard’s days were numbered. The business was liquidated and Richard Niello Sr. briefly worked for the Cadillac division in Sales of General Motors in San Francisco. There that he met two other young automotive enthusiasts, Wes Lasher and Elmer Hubacher. All three would become lifelong friends and go on to establish automotive legacies in what would be their new hometown, Sacramento.
In 1955, Hubacher eventually went into business on his own which left Lasher and Niello Sr. to partner together to establish their own dealership in downtown Sacramento, at 1323 J Street. It started with a single make, a new German import poised to become an overnight success and legendary fixture in the American automotive landscape: Volkswagen.
Years later, in 1963, the opportunity arose for Lasher and Niello Sr. to establish their own, separate, Volkswagen dealerships, they parted amicably and The Niello Company continued to grow. As a successor to Lasher-Niello Volkswagen, The Niello Company established Niello Volkswagen and added the Porsche franchise in 1956. To meet demands of the growing Sacramento market, Niello Volkswagen moved to a new location on Arden Way in 1969 and has been there ever since. The Niello Porsche franchise spun off and joined Audi, a relatively unknown brand at the time, thereby forming Niello Porsche Audi. To date, Niello is both the second oldest Audi dealership and the longest owned Porsche dealership in the country.
From then on, anticipating the next newest, hottest and most distinctive automobile characterized the Niello name.
The Company Grows Throughout the Greater Sacramento Region
Since those early beginnings, The Niello Company has expanded considerably. Niello BMW opened in 1973 and moved to its current location on Fulton Avenue in 1985. At the time, the BMW brand was new to the market and unfamiliar in the region’s automotive landscape. All that would change though in a matter of time.
While The Niello Company continued to look for opportunities to grow and expand within the region, Richards’s three sons would soon begin their own careers within the automotive industry. Rick Niello, Richard’s oldest son, worked as a Salesman at Carlson Volkswagen in San Francisco for three years before he moved to Sacramento and began working for The Niello Company. In 1972, Rick took a position as a Finance Manager at the Niello Porsche Audi dealership. Rick’s brother, Roger, would join him at The Niello Company a few years later and work as the General Manager of Niello BMW on Fulton Avenue.
In December of 1981, the Company branched out of Sacramento by acquiring a Porsche Audi franchise in Concord. In 1991, Niello acquired an INFINITI franchise in Concord, located at 1001 Burnett Avenue ever since. It was at this time that David Niello, the youngest of the three brothers, joined the company and helped operate the Concord franchise.
In 1990, Acura became the next franchise added to the lineup of fine automobile brands to distinguish The Niello Company in Sacramento. Four years later, in 1994, Niello Acura moved to a location on Madison Avenue in Sacramento. Throughout this time of tremendous growth for the Company, the three brothers worked together with their father gaining invaluable experience, industry knowledge and a firm understanding of what makes a dealership successful.
The Tradition Continues
In 1995, Rick Niello (Richard Niello Sr.’s son) took the reins of the company and became President. His brother, David Niello, is Vice President of The Niello Company and his third brother, Roger Niello, currently serves as Secretary of the Company. Richard Niello Sr. went on to be the Director of the Founding Board of the American Import Auto Dealers Association.
The Niello Company then opened two flagship dealerships in the Sacramento area with Land Rover Rocklin in 2001 and Niello MINI in 2002, in addition to the Niello Collision Center opening in 2001.
With three dealerships opening in June of 2007, The Niello Company continued its growth in the Sacramento area with Jaguar Sacramento, Land Rover Sacramento, and Maserati of Sacramento. These exceptional brands further propelled The Niello Company into providing the most distinctive automobiles to its customers.
The Niello Company built a state-of-the-art facility in the Elk Grove Auto Mall for its second Niello BMW dealership in January of 2008.
In 2011, The Niello Company celebrated a significant milestone with its 90 year anniversary. The Niello Company welcomed Niello Volvo Cars Sacramento to the area in 2014. With this addition, the Niello Acura store made a move to the Roseville Auto Mall and the Volvo franchise found its permanent home on Madison Avenue. Also in 2014, Niello MINI opened its doors in a new, stunning and truly one-of-a-kind facility on Auburn Boulevard in Sacramento. 2016 started out on an exciting note with the opening of the new location of Niello Maserati on Arden Way in late January and the opening of Niello Alfa Romeo, at that same location, shortly after that.