Growing up in Sudbury, there were times when Vince Palladino thought it was pretty cool to see an occasional BMW driving around the city from southern Ontario.

Next year, he says he plans to open a BMW dealership in Sudbury. That will be in addition to the Honda, Chrysler, Mazda and RV dealerships he owns, as well as other businesses in different cities.

Getting into selling vehicles wasn't originally in his blood but he says he had a good example by watching his father manage his car business. Palladino says his father owned three used car dealerships in Sudbury before taking on a Honda dealership.

"Actually, I don't think [he] was really excited to get into the new car world," he said. "But Honda was persistent with him."

Towards the end of high school, Palladino says he started working for his father, but not by choice.

"I cracked up a few cars when I first got my license," he said. "He had me washing cars on Saturdays and cleaning the shop until I paid it off."

Officially entering the family business

After getting a golf scholarship to Ohio State, Palladino had dreams of becoming a professional golfer. However, after considering his options and a difficult competition, he decided to join the family business officially in 1997.

"Two weeks in, I think I sold two cars on a Friday, took my mom out for dinner and just knew I loved it right then," he said.

"Struggling on the Canadian PGA tour for awhile was pretty draining."

From there, Palladino has opened several car dealerships in Sudbury, as well as dealerships in North Bay, Oakville and London.

"Sudbury is the home of the Palladino Auto Group," he said. "So no matter where we go, however much we grow, wherever we end up, Sudbury's homebase."

Today, the dealerships employ 366 people. Palladino says his father, who is turning 88 next month, takes pride in stopping by every day. He says he credits his father for teaching him the lesson of hard work.

"It's leading by example," he said.

"Watching him put the hours he's put into this business and the passion he has for it. As we expand, I think my father's really excited to see it happen."

With files from Markus Schwabe