With a car dealership that’s been in business for 50 years and roles in independent films, this Renaissance man has plenty of reasons to smile
By Gena Ansell Lande
Whether it’s fighting fires, selling cars, or blurring the lines between fact and fiction on a reality TV show, Bobby Ciasulli is all about keeping it real. He is the corporate director and general manager of two car dealerships: Galaxy Toyota in Eatontown and Honda Universe in Lakewood. As the third generation of his family to work in the dealerships (the family owns six altogether) Ciasulli developed an affinity for grease and wheels at an early age.
“I got a crash course in the business, starting from the bottom…washing cars, working in the parts department and body shop, and then as a service advisor,” he recalled. “I gradually worked my way into sales.” At 18, fresh out of high school, he was in charge of two stores. The rest is history.
Galaxy Toyota will soon be marking its 50th anniversary a sizeable accomplishment in a tough business, and when Ciasulli speaks about the company, his pride is evident.
“We have over 60 employees in each dealership, and they’re incredible places to work,” he said. “We avoid turnover at every cost; most of our employees have been with us for long periods of time because we don’t make promises we can’t keep. I would love for our employees to retire here.”
One of the projects he’s most proud of is the First Responders Buying Program. Ciasulli explained, “This is a program which gives all first responders the best deal on their car purchases. I love to be able to make a difference and give back to those who do so much for our community.” As a firefighter with the Colts Neck Volunteer Fire Department, this is a project that is near and dear to his own heart.
Ciasulli also has a long history in television. Early on, before the Internet took over, he starred in TV commercials for the dealership, but it was his 2014 stint on season six of Bravo’s hit reality show Real Housewives of New Jersey that earned him the greatest notoriety. The irony of being on a “reality” TV show is that sometimes the lines between what is and isn’t real are heavily blurred. He recalled, “My expectations were different for the show. Looking back on what took place, we were led to believe it was going to be a much different season, with a more positive slant.”
Unfortunately, there was conflict on the set, and relationships were frayed, specifically between Ciasulli and his longtime friend and co star Jim Marchese. He added, “I don’t regret doing the show I would have regretted not doing it.
Unfortunately, we were played against each other. That’s what production does: look for where the most drama will play out.”
Although the Marchese family and Ciasulli live in the same development in Colts Neck, they don’t speak anymore. While that hardly sits well with Ciasulli, he believes that some good came out of the show. “Well, I did get a lot of Twitter followers,” he said with a chuckle. “It also satisfied a curiosity. There were definitely some good times over the three month filming period.”
After the show ended, Ciasulli wanted to set the record straight about the events that took place, so he created a YouTube video that presents his side of the Housewives story. The video, titled The Truth, is an hour long, interview style conversation that gave him an opportunity to respond to the accusations made by his former friend and co star.
Ciasulli is also a serious fitness buff, and he can be found in the gym four to five times a week. But he’s just as avid about a whole host of things, including Monmouth County, for which he has a real affinity.
“I’ve lived here for 18 years and think it’s an amazing hub,” he said. “We’re not far from Atlantic City and Manhattan, and we’ve got the beach. It’s a perfect place, in my opinion. I never feel claustrophobic here. I think it’s the best county in Jersey.”
Along with his family, friends, and motorcycle, Ciasulli has a passion for making movies and acting. A thespian at heart, he recently rekindled his long held love for making films.
As a kid I used to love to make home movies in my backyard with my friends, and being in character is something I’ve always loved. After I did Housewives, I got the itch and am now heavily involved with making independent films,” he noted. One of these films, Bound by Debt, recently got picked up overseas. His role? A degenerate gambler. He said, “It’s an interesting plot. My estranged brother finds out from my daughter in the movie that the Mafia is after me, and it brings him back into my life. Unlike reality TV, where I felt like I had to watch my back, everyone gets along on the set. It’s like working with a unique family.” Bound by Debt offers a bounty of martial arts scenes and plenty of suspense.
All of Ciasulli’s eclectic interests keep him pretty busy, which leaves little time for dating. Besides, he said, the current dating scene has become a “train wreck.”
“I think social media has destroyed the dating world. People are only concerned about their social media posts how they look and what image they portray to the world. Nobody talks anymore their whole world is on their phone.”
When the Jersey native is not at his dealerships or studying for his next role, you’ll find him at the Colts Neck Fire Department.
“After Superstorm Sandy struck our community, a buddy of mine, who is part of the department, invited me to spend a couple of days at the firehouse,” he said. “They had a generator, food, access to running water, and heat. I stayed for over a week and observed how much they do to help our community.
From that point on I knew I had to be a part of it.” After completing 200 hours of training, he worked his way up and is currently a first lieutenant his only regret not joining the department sooner. He added, “The interesting part is that if it weren’t for the storm, I never would have had the opportunity to even try. Things definitely happen for a reason.”
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