Ex-dealer finds happiness away from showroom floor

June 27, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

Joseph Tacchetti was in a whirlwind of legal troubles.

Nissan Motor Corp. was attempting to revoke the franchise for his Major Motors dealership in Ellicott City. His marriage of 58 years was on the skids. And his estranged wife was undertaking a "hostile takeover" of the dealership in Howard Circuit Court.

"It had all the potential of being devastating," said Richard Kinlein, an Ellicott City attorney who represents Mr. Tacchetti. "But it's one of those cases where everybody ends up happy."

After 29 years running the business on Baltimore National Pike, Mr. Tacchetti sold Major Motors this month to Jerry Maizlish, who operates the Acura West dealership across the street.

The Tacchetti divorce included a settlement apparently beneficial to both sides. The sale enabled the 77-year-old businessman to retire after decades in the car trade.

Mr. Kinlein said his client and long-time friend is now BTC concentrating on his Baltimore eatery, Tacchetti's Restaurant in Little Italy.

Mr. Tacchetti, of Columbia, could not be reached for comment. Neither Mr. Kinlein nor Mr. Maizlish would disclose the purchase price of the dealership. Mr. Maizlish has changed the name to Nissan West.

He said he plans to consolidate the two dealerships into one operation with separate showrooms at Acura West's 6-acre site in the 8500 block of Baltimore National Pike.

"This [Major Motors] dealership has been in the community for years," Mr. Maizlish said. "We want to keep it here and upgrade it."

The sale of the dealership went through while Mr. Tacchetti was waiting for a ruling from a state administrative judge in his challenge to Nissan's efforts to revoke his franchise.

Nissan filed a franchise termination notice last fall with the state Motor Vehicle Administration's Division of Licensing and Consumer Services to shut down Major Motors.

Mr. Tacchetti said in an interview in November that Nissan

officials told him they were unhappy with the dealership's performance and that he was too old to run the business. He also contended that Nissan wanted him to open a "glass palace" in Columbia -- a financial risk he did not want to take.

The settlement occurred simultaneously with divorce proceedings in Circuit Court between Mr. Tacchetti and his wife, Jean Tacchetti, said Joel Abramson, who represented Mrs. Tacchetti.

The Tacchettis were married in 1934, but had not lived together since 1978, according to court documents. They have two adult children.

Mrs. Tacchetti, of Bethesda, could not be reached for comment.

According to the divorce settlement, Mrs. Tacchetti transferred her stock in the dealership to Mr. Tacchetti, but she retains sole ownership of the business' land.

Mr. Abramson said Mrs. Tacchetti is pleased by the outcome of the divorce and has no concerns about the future of Major Motors.

"She couldn't care less," Mr. Abramson said. "They can sell tangerines out there as far as she's concerned."

The Tacchettis formed Major Motors at the intersection of Baltimore National Pike and Rogers Avenue in 1964, records say. The couple shared ownership of the dealership's stock and the 1.5-acre site of the business.

The couple and Mrs. Tacchetti's brother served as the company's board of directors. Mr. Tacchetti handled the dealership's daily operations as its president.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Tacchetti agreed to drop a civil suit she filed against Mr. Tacchetti in an effort to get a court injunction prohibiting him from working at Major Motors, records say. Mrs. Tacchetti wanted to replace her husband with their son, John Tacchetti.

Mr. Kinlein noted that the divorce settlement was reached within 10 days after the proceedings started. The sale of Major Motors to Mr. Maizlish was hammered out in about one hour.

"Nissan was happy because they have a young, energetic man running the dealership," Mr. Kinlein said.

L "Jerry Maizlish is delighted because he has two dealerships.

"I assume Mrs. Tacchetti is happy because she now owns the property," the attorney said. "And I haven't seen Joe in the last 15 years so relaxed and so at peace with himself."

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