Groundbreakings and grand openings can be deadly dull.
So it was a pleasant surprise last Monday when Carl Galeana had an open house at his new Fiat of Lakeside dealership ... uh, I mean studio ... in suburban Detroit.
Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne roared into the dealership in a slate-gray Maserati Quattroporte, parking it indoors in the service department.
I can't remember the last time a CEO attended a dealership open house.
Marchionne spoke for a few minutes, saying nice things about Galeana and his investment, etc. So did Laura Soave, the U.S. Fiat brand honcho.
When Marchionne walked out from behind the podium, he was mobbed by two dozen reporters armed with notebooks, digital recorders and video cameras. It was an impromptu guerrilla press conference with reporters hurling questions at will.
In the news business that's known as a scrum.
After that, Marchionne walked through the showroom, stopping here and there to shake hands or for a photo-op. Then it was back into the Quattroporte and arrivederci.
Marchionne was there for about half an hour, but other Chrysler execs hung around longer. So I had a nice chat with Fred Diaz, head of the Ram brand.
And Pietro Gorlier shared a story.
Gorlier, who is CEO of Mopar, was wearing two lapel pins. Of course one was the stylized, curvy Mopar M.
The other was a Fiat pin -- the very pin Gorlier told me he had worn to dozens of Fiat dealership openings in China, India and all across Europe when he worked for the Italian brand.
He told me in great detail about the various local customs, including using coconuts to crush shells in India in order to bring good luck -- and how he got soaked with coconut milk one day when he attended three dealership openings.
But the most telling thing he said was that in every country he visited, car dealers were always optimistic and enthusiastic.