78.5 F
San Fernando
Wednesday, Aug 17, 2022
-Advertisement-

Car Collector

Steve Assil’s story starts out just like so many other entrepreneurs’: A person comes to the U.S. with $200 cash in his pocket, the clothes on his back and an entrepreneurial vision. But what distinguishes the owner and president of Hollywood Motor Corp., located on Roscoe Boulevard in Canoga Park a used car dealership that sells to the public and leases and rents cars and motorcycles to film studios is that he managed to build a business around his favorite hobbies since childhood. “The three things I’m doing are the three things I loved as a kid,” Assil said. “Cars, movies and motorcycles.” But before Assil opened Hollywood Motor in 1998 with a staff that included his wife and a salesman, his business ventures included a chain of video stores and restaurants. All of them had been successes, enabling Assil, an Afghanistan native, to buy a house in Simi Valley and live the proverbial ‘good life.’ And he may have planted the seed for a family-owned business that will evolve into something bigger down the road. Assil’s son Aimal, 24, dropped his studies of theater and film to join his father’s company about a year ago. He made that choice unforced and did it because he saw potential. “The best thing I can do,” Aimal said, “is help him and try to prevail higher.” Aimal follows his father’s hard work ethic and business has resulted from it. “I could’ve (done) a lot of different things,” he said. “(My dad) worked extremely hard to get where he is. It’s only beneficial for me and my family (to) continue his legacy.” Hollywood Motor has carved itself a niche among car dealerships by catering to both the general public and film studios and specializing in motorcycles, particularly. The company, which had 2003 revenues of more than $1.5 million and a full-time staff of three people, is about 70 percent used car dealership and 30 percent specialized shop that provides cars and motorcycles for use in feature films, Assil said. Two identical models of the red and yellow taxi used in the Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx film “Collateral” are on the Canoga Park lot of Hollywood Motor. Assil said that inquiries had come in from collectors who were interested in buying one of them that was used during the film and equipped with special steering equipment. Auction follower Assil is a frequent visitor to auto auctions, where he buys cars and motorcycles prepared for filming. “He’s one of our V.I.P. customers,” said Craig Alford, vice president of operations at North Hollywood-based Ken Porter Auctions. Barbara Riley, who handles Department of Motor Vehicles paperwork at Ken Porter, said “he’s bought probably hundreds (of motorcycles) over the span of time he’s dealt with us.” Ironically, Ken Porter is a subsidiary of CHP Enterprises, Inc., a North Hollywood-based company that owns and operates Cinema Vehicles, one of the world’s preeminent suppliers of automobiles for filming. But Assil had told Riley that “he had the largest inventory of police motorcycles” and is confident his business is secure. “There are other people doing what I do,” he said. But, at the same time, he added, “I don’t really have any serious competition around me.” Assil is a self-described workaholic. “I put all the pressure on myself,” Assil said. “I’m throwing the garbage out, I do everything. The only way to success is to not be ashamed of doing menial work. And Assil is truly hands-on. He is at Hollywood Motor seven days a week, doing as much as he can and hiring help only “to wash cars twice a week.” Sometimes, he also hires about six or seven subcontractors to handle high-quantity orders for customized vehicles. His customer service is also a factor that may have contributed to his business growing from $500,000 in revenues in 1998 to $1.5 million last year, without hiring more employees. Started at restaurant Altogether, Assil has done well for himself, considering his “American Dream” began when he stepped off the plane at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. That was in 1975, and his first job was at his brother-in-law’s restaurant called Valentino’s, located in Queens. From there, Assil went to Eastern News in Manhattan, and was promoted to manager in three years. It was then that he took a vacation to Southern California and decided to come back for good. “We sold everything and just came back,” he said. He lived in Malibu at first, and then bought a condo on Sherman Way in Reseda. Across the street was an empty store, which he decided to buy and open a Valentino’s New York Pizza. It was a success, but he looked to get out of the food business. So at the first available opportunity, he bought a video store next door at the time, in 1987, the video rental industry was booming, he said. And the business indeed proved lucrative, as Assil opened several other locations within a short time. Throughout that time, Assil also collected motorcycles, and one day was approached by a producer who wanted to rent a motorcycle from him and offered $250 per day. “That’s how I started working with movie studios and selling to the public,” Assil said. He eventually sold the video stores, recognizing they were no longer the hot businesses they used to be, and found the present location of Hollywood Motor just driving by one day. Now, as “they” say, it’s all history. Assil plans to retire “when I turn 55” and have his son take over. And his son appears ready and willing to give his dad who he said has been “working like a machine” a well-deserved rest. “When you have a good mentor, you know you’re going in the right direction,” Aimal said. “I see my dad turn water into wine.” y SPOTLIGHT – Hollywood Motor Corp. Year Founded: 1998 Employees in 1998: 3 Employees in 2004: 3 (full-time) Revenues in 1998: $500,000 Revenues in 2004: $1.5 million Goal: To be a successful car dealership and provider of motorcycles and cars to feature film, TV and other studios Driving Force: Owner’s interests in movies, cars and motorcycles since childhood

-Advertisement-

Featured Articles

-Advertisement-
-Advertisement-

Related Articles

-Advertisement-
-Advertisement-