My New Year did not get off to the start I was hoping for.

As I was getting ready to get back to the office that Tuesday morning following the holiday, I received word that Troy Pelzl, managing partner/vice president of Jimmy Vasser Toyota/Chevrolet had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away that weekend.

I’m sure many members of our community never had the pleasure to meet Troy personally, as he moved to Napa from Walnut Creek approximately two years ago.

He came because the Vasser family picked him to help them stake claim as “Napa’s Choice” for local new and used car sales.

I did get to know him, and was in the process of working very closely with him to help him accomplish that goal.

His passion for wanting to create a successful business/atmosphere for the Vasser family made him easy to root for. He worked extremely hard and didn’t take short cuts when it came to re-engaging the family business with the local community.

He did so by participating/sponsoring things like the 4th of July Parade and Fireworks, raising and contributing money for/to Donny Robinson and his BMX club/track at Kennedy Park, and the Leaven tutoring and mentoring program.

The BMX raffle fundraiser resulted in a local retired vet winning a new 2017 Toyota Tundra. In addition to these small examples of his endless community commitment, he was an avid supporter of the Chamber and our efforts to assist and collaborate with him.

Troy absolutely understood how his high level of engagement with the Chamber would ultimately benefit the family business.

We spoke often. And whenever he or I would come up with some crazy idea/scheme to help promote dealership visitation and brand visibility, his response was always the same – “Lets do it; now, how do we make that happen?”

He made sure Vasser employees were represented at Chamber events to engage with other members of the local business community. He personally handled any customer we ever sent his way.

He also helped his new team/family sell more cars than they have in quite some time.

Things have been a little quiet at the dealership since things happened so suddenly and unexpectedly, so I’d like to ask our community to help pay respects like I know we are capable — to Jimmy Sr. and family by helping to pick up those spirits of the staff members — who trusted in Troy’s ability to lead them.

A very close friend of mine actually broke the news to me that morning.

He’d recently purchased a car from Vasser Toyota and was scheduled to meet him in the service department that Tuesday morning to help get an issue resolved. He never showed.

Apparently, he was rushed to the hospital over the weekend due to a severe bout with pneumonia and did not survive. Our sincere condolences go out to the Pelzl family, the Vassers and hard-working teams at Vasser Toyota/Chevrolet.

Napa Chamber Ambassador of the Year:

The Napa Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce that Ira. C. Smith has been selected as the 2017 Ambassador of the Year.

Ira wears the “Ambassador” title as well as anyone in our community as on-air personality and “Voice of Napa High School Sports” (KVON 1440) for the past 42 years.

His dedication took center stage during the fires as he worked tirelessly to assist local leaders and responders with the dissemination of important updates and information in an attempt to keep everyone safe.

Congrats, Ira!

Travis Stanley is the president and CEO of the Napa Chamber of Commerce. Call 226-7455 or visit napachamber.com.

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