Sitting behind a desk piled high with clippings, photos, email printouts and toy Chevrolet cars
A.J. Guanella holds forth on the more than 70 years’ worth of auto industry memories.
In 1949, AJ began working in the parts department at Englewood’s Burt Chevrolet as a teenager, where his dad, Augie, was parts manager. Rather than attending college in Greeley on a baseball scholarship, he joined the Navy in 1951. He returned full-time to Burt in 1954.
Because he wanted to do more, A.J. moved into sales six years later, and enjoyed remarkable success. In fact, he did so well, Chevrolet picked HIS brain. In March 1973, just before he became sales manager, A.J. sold 74 vehicles — his best sales month.
Really, that was just the beginning for A.J., as he climbed from there to General Sales Manager, Executive Vice President, General Manager and in 1988, he took 15 percent ownership in Burt Chevrolet-Subaru.
When Burt was sold to John Elway, Mitch Pierce and Todd Maul in 2011, A.J. told the trio he wanted to stay and they encouraged him to continue what he did when he was the owner. It was the only direction he ever was given and A.J. stayed on as ‘Store Ambassador.’
A.J. has been very involved in his community and Colorado’s automotive industry. He served as director on the CADA Board, as well as director and president of the Metro Denver Auto Dealers.
He’s still active with the Englewood Chamber of Commerce and is a life member of the Colorado PGA Jr. Golf Program. He’s raised funds for Littleton Boys Baseball, sponsored the Littleton Meals on Wheels Golf Tournament and provided cars for the State Patrol’s MADD program, to name just a few. Since 1959 he’s been an usher at All Souls Catholic Church.
A.J. loves to tell the story about how he worked to keep the AFL Denver Broncos in town by selling season tickets to all the dealers on South Broadway. That time was a good investment because he met so many people — and even got a job offer from a Ford dealer. Naturally, he turned it down because he was so happy at Burt.
There’s no question that being inducted into the Colorado Automotive Hall of Fame is an honor, A.J. observed. And in typical A.J. style, he added that he feels everything he’s done was not so much for himself as it was for the dealerships he served.