One of New York’s most knowledgeable truck experts has joined the Hassett of Wantagh team.
Ken Vighi, president of the New York Ford Truck Club Team, became truck sales manager at Long Island’s No. 1 volume Ford, Lincoln, Mercury dealer in October, and he hasn’t looked back. His new friends at Hassett “have been nothing but nice to me,” he says, and that means something coming from someone who’s sold Ford Motor Co. products for 42 years.
Ken – KJ to his friends – is more than a Ford salesman. He’s a Ford fan. Long before he took the reins of the New York FTCT in 2004, he’d enjoyed a love affair with Ford vehicles, especially trucks. “Cut me open, I bleed Ford blue,” KJ says. “I believe in the product.”
He still remembers the day in 1967 when General Motors workers went on strike – grim news for the young, aspiring GM salesman. “I was told to go work at a Ford store, and when the strike was over I could come back to GM,” KJ recalls. “If you learned one thing at GM, it was that Fords were junk. But, in reality, when I went to work for them I found out Ford was making great cars.”
So ended KJ’s association with GM and began his lifelong relationship with Ford. While he’s sold every manner of Ford vehicle at one point or another, a special place is reserved in KJ’s heart for Ford trucks – particularly the flagship F150.
“The technology, the ride, the handling, the quietness of it,” he says with considerable reverence, before reminding you that Ford F-series trucks have been the No. 1 selling vehicle in the U.S. for 29 consecutive years.
As president of the New York Ford Truck Club Team – at 49 years running, one of the nation’s oldest Ford truck clubs – KJ’s mission is education and charity. Over eight annual meeting, the FTCT instructs young people on “how to be qualified Ford truck salespeople,” KJ says, while sponsoring fundraisers for the American Red Cross, Trees for Troops and other altruistic organizations.
But at Hassett, KJ is all business – and business, he believes, is about to boom.
“In the U.S., we were selling 15 million [Ford trucks] a year until two years ago,” he notes. “For the last two years, we’ve been selling about 10 million. That’s about 10 million total sales that weren’t made… and those buyers will be coming back to the market.
“It’s just numbers,” KJ adds. “The American public has pulled its money out of the stock market and held back on purchases and put its money in the bank. Now it’s going to start spending again … I firmly believe it.”
And Hassett of Wantagh is in the perfect position to enjoy that rebound, according to its new commercial truck manager.
“I’ve been around long enough to know that there’s always an up following the down,” KJ says. “With Hassett’s reputation, and this product line, I think we’re going to have a very good year – not just a good year, a very good year.”