Case Study #1: A Large Dealership Group – Lehman Auto World. We were retained by the Lehman family to assist them with the sale of their nine franchises in South Florida. Several of the Lehman dealerships needed significant investment in facilities, plus they had an option to purchase another two franchises in South Florida. This was a complicated but very attractive auto group. And given the high earnings and extensive real estate holdings, I knew that we would offer the group to a very limited number of buyers that could afford the purchase price, were approvable by many OEMs at the same time and could handle the extensive capital expenditures required post-closing. During our marketing process, Lithia Motors, the largest automotive retailer in the world, stepped forward as the Most Motivated Buyer™ and we were able to negotiate a transaction.
Case Study #2: A Mid-Sized Dealership Group – Waikem Auto Family. When we were retained by the Waikem Auto Family to advise them on the sale of their six dealerships in Ohio, the owners directed us to market this group to around 10 potential buyers while excluding a handful of direct competitors. But they also wanted us to exclude a handful of direct competitors. Most of the buyers that we contacted were from Ohio. But Kevin Nill from our team had been in contact with the Diehl Automotive Group, based in Pennsylvania, and knew that they were interested in expanding into Ohio. There was good competition from other parties, but the Diehls stepped up with a compelling offer and they now own the stores.
Case Study #3: A Small Dealership Group – McDermott Auto Group. David McDermott is a well-respected dealer who owned Lexus and Chevorlet dealerships in New Haven, Connecticut. When David wanted to retire, he retained us to sell the dealerships and directed us to market them broadly. One complication was that the Lexus facility was old, and we knew Lexus would require a buyer to build a new one. A big part of our offering materials addressed how a buyer could upgrade the facility, the potential costs, and the likely rewards in terms of additional allocation from Lexus. Acquiring a Lexus franchise is a dream for many leading buyers, so we had many options for which potential buyers we wanted to approach. One of my teammates, Nate Klebacha, had sold two dealerships in Connecticut during the previous year to PSD Automotive Group, so we knew they were motivated for additional growth. After a highly competitive process, PSD Automotive made the best offer. PSD also made Lexus happy with a plan for an upgraded facility. Another win-win-win for our client, the buyer and Lexus.
Case Study #4: A Highly Valuable Single-Point Store: John Elway’s Crown Toyota, in Ontario, California. I have known John Elway, Mitch Pierce and Paxton Gagnet since 1996. When Mitch let me know that he and John were open to selling the dealership to redeploy capital into their core markets, but didn’t want to run a large sales process, I was confident I knew the perfect buyer. A former client, Swickard Automotive Group, was well respected by Toyota and was rapidly expanding into southern California. Neither Mitch, John or their attorneys or CPAs knew about the Swickard Automotive Group, which is number 64 on the Automotive News Top 150 Dealership Groups list. Dealer Principal Jeff Swickard quickly saw the special nature of John Elway Crown Toyota and we were able to put together a transaction in which Swickard purchased control of the dealership while Elway, Pierce and Gagnet retained a portion of the ownership. Aside from another Toyota dealership that sold earlier in 2022, we believe John Elway’s Crown Toyota is the most valuable single-point dealership ever sold.
Case Study #5: Two Transactions, One Client – Toyota of Bristol in Tennessee and Summerville Ford in South Carolina. Haig Partners was retained to sell two dealerships owned by the Mitchell Family Office in Michigan, a company with roots in the healthcare industry. As the marketing process evolved, John Davis from our team recognized the uniqueness of these two distinct markets which produced separate buyers, maximizing the value for our client. Summerville is a rapidly growing suburb of Charleston, a lucrative area for many auto dealerships. Many dealers have told us of their desire to acquire stores in this market, so we could quickly provide a list of highly qualified buyers that we knew had the support of the OEMs and plenty of financial capacity. While John sourced numerous attractive offers from dealers inside and outside the market, Hudson Automotive Group was the Most Motivated Buyer™, eager to add a Ford franchise in its hometown. Toyota is among the most desired franchises today, so we also had a long list of potential buyers for that dealership. After heavy bidding, the Alabama-based Springhill Automotive Group, led by Tal Vickers emerged as the Most Motivated Buyer™.