By Michele E. Buttelman
Special to The Signal
Frontier Toyota, owned since 1988 by Santa Clarita Valley resident Joe Caso, was recently sold to Aman Abraham, of Los Angeles.
Abraham, who is looking to relocate to the SCV, was previously the general manager of Lithia Motors, Inc./Toyota Downtown Los Angeles.
Sale of the dealership closed on Wednesday. The sales price was not disclosed.
Caso, who also owns Honda of Pasadena, said he decided the time was right to turn over the keys to a new owner.
“As I like to put it, at 70 years old I am on the ‘back nine’ of life,” he said. “I want to enjoy my time with my grandkids.”
Frontier Toyota has won numerous awards and accolades during Caso’s 34 years as owner.
In 2017, Caso said, the dealership won the Toyota Motor North America President’s Cabinet Award, an exclusive award presented to just 12 dealers in the country.
“It is the biggest award you can receive,” he said.
To be eligible for the award, a dealership must be one of the top 60 dealers in sales in the United States and one of the top 12 dealers in customer satisfaction.
In addition, Frontier has won the Toyota Board of Governors Award 25 times. The award is reserved for the top 60 dealers in non-fleet sales in the country. The dealership must also demonstrate a strong commitment to customer service and satisfaction.
Frontier has captured the Toyota President’s Award, based on a dealership’s attention to customer service satisfaction, customer sales satisfaction and employee training, 24 times.
Caso said he will miss owning the SCV dealership.
“I am going to miss my employees and the camaraderie we have,” he said.
More than half of Caso’s 170 employees have worked at the dealership for 20 years or longer.
“I was shocked to discover how many employees I had that were with me for so many years,” he said. “I have many employees who have been here, 15, 20, 25, 30 years.”
Caso started in the car business in 1979 when he moved from Boston to Northern California. He started his career as a sales consultant at San Bruno Ford.
Caso is well known in the SCV for his philanthropic support of local nonprofits.
“I knew I had to be a part of the community,” he said. “This is a very tight-knit community. It’s a very special community. I got involved immediately.”
The list of Frontier Toyota’s contributions is lengthy, including support for the Child & Family Center, SCV Senior Center, SCV Food Pantry, SCV Boys & Girls Club and Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital.
The dealership has also been an important supporter of White Ribbon Week in the SCV. The White Ribbon campaign to promote safe student driving is usually held at the end of the school year.
Marlee Lauffer, president of the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Foundation, said Caso has been an invaluable supporter of the community hospital.
“Joe and Frontier Toyota have been amazing community partners of Henry Mayo,” she said. “For 26 years Joe was the generous title sponsor of the Fronter Toyota Henry Mayo ‘Drive Safe’ Golf Classic, which raises more than $300,000 annually towards our emergency and trauma services.”
Lauffer said Caso and his family have made numerous contributions to a variety of capital expansions and programs on the hospital campus.
“Santa Clarita is a better place because of people like Joe Caso,” she said.
A Dream of More than 15 Years
A native of Ethiopia, Abraham moved with his family at age 12 to Santa Monica.
In the late 1990s he started working in auto sales to help pay for his studies at California State University, Northridge.
Abraham is no stranger to the SCV: He worked as a finance manager at AutoNation Magic Ford, then became a finance director.
He also completed the executive training program at AutoNation.
Abraham said the dream of owning his own dealership is “more than 15 years in the making.”
“I worked across the street from Frontier Toyota,” he said. “I would always look at this amazing store and see the wonderful job they did. Toyota was a brand in which I’ve always been interested. When Joe and I met we hit it off and he was kind enough to give me this opportunity, for which I am very much grateful.”
Abraham said he intends to retain “all my amazing employees and to continue Joe’s work with the community.”
“I am going to continue everything Joe is doing, but we’re also going to create our own initiatives,” he said. “I just found out there is a veteran’s community here, which I think is a phenomenal idea. We are going to find a way to get involved in taking care of veterans, either by donations, or deals or discounts.”
Abraham said it is important to become “a true partner to the community.”
“Once I get settled, I am looking forward to engaging with the community and getting involved and giving back. I am looking forward to it,” he said. “My message to the community is that anything we can do to help the community, please feel free to reach out to us.”