What to Do When Your Honda Dealership Has the Same Name as a Dead Klansman
It’s been a rough week at Frank Ancona Honda of Olathe, Kansas.
The family-owned dealership, in operation just southwest of Kansas City since 1961, has successfully weathered all of the storms that periodically pummel dealers of all stripes.
Then, last weekend, a body discovered on the banks of Missouri’s Big River — about a five-hour drive to the east — gave the dealership the kind of attention that no business wants. The corpse, which had a bullet hole in its head, also had a name: Frank Ancona.
No, the founder of Frank Ancona Honda is still alive and well at 85. But much to his dismay, the Frank Ancona discovered by the Big River was none other than the 51-year-old imperial wizard of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
There have been phone calls to the dealership. Many of them, in fact.
When Automotive News first broke the story, the dealership had already posted a disclaimer on its website. “Frank Ancona Honda is not in any relation to the KKK leader that was recently found dead,” read any car shopper browsing for deals on a Odyssey or Accord.
A good thing to know. Unfortunately, not everyone does the groundwork to avoid leaping to conclusions.
Ancona told AN not long after news of the killing spread that his dealership received several calls from people “ranting and raving,” having mistaken him for the KKK leader.“I thought, ‘Here we go again,'” Leon Wharton, the dealer’s general manager, told the Kansas City Star. The dealer first discovered there was a hateful duplicate name out there in 2014, when the same Frank Ancona was interviewed following the shooting deaths of three Jewish people in Overland Park, Kansas.
Wharton said the news media has done a good job dispelling any connection between the dealer and the KKK leader, but social media is another story. Speculation has run rampant online, and that has led to more phone calls. Most have come from those looking to find out the identity of the Honda-loving Frank Ancona, though one offered sympathies for the dealer’s plight.
Others, placed by people who think themselves mighty clever, have proved more of an annoyance.
“We got a phone call from a customer yesterday who pretended to be a member of the KKK in Mississippi,” Wharton said. “He said he wanted to offer his condolences at the death of our leader. Our receptionist said, ‘After I explained that our “leader” is alive and well and not a KKK member, he fessed up and said, “I was just kidding.”‘”Despite the unwanted attention, Wharton claims he isn’t too concerned about the name hurting the business.
“February is usually one of the worst months in the automobile business as it is,” he explained. “It just never does do very well in comparison to the other months. So could it have some impact? Yes. But can I pinpoint that it’s negatively affected business? No, not really.”As for the dead man, Ancona’s wife and stepson have been charged in his killing.[Image: Mike Moffat/ Flickr ( CC BY 2.0)]
Dal20402 on Feb 20, 2017
"Our receptionist said, ‘After I explained that our “leader” is alive and well and not a KKK member, he fessed up and said, “I was just kidding.”‘” This is my two-year-old's standard go-to technique when caught in an embarrassing lie or misunderstanding. I only wish the racist trolls would mature as fast as he does.
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