Breaking Barriers and Building Legacies: The Dave Cantin Group Facilitates History-Making Transaction of Ford’s First Female-led Dealership Sale

May 30, 2023
Veronica Maoli of Celebrity Motor Cars has purchased Downs Ford in Toms River, NJ from Melissa Longo
Veronica Maoli of Celebrity Motor Cars has purchased Downs Ford in Toms River, NJ from Melissa Longo

New York, New York – May 15, 2023 The Dave Cantin Group, a leading financial advisory company focused on the automotive sector, announced the sale of Downs Ford to Celebrity Motor Cars. This transaction marks Ford’s first dealership sale facilitated solely by women, showcasing the leadership positions and business growth women are achieving in the automotive industry.

Downs Ford is a third-generation dealership, led by Melissa Longo and her father Rick Riccardi, Jr., serving customers in Toms River, Bayville, and Manchester Township, NJ.

“Melissa Longo and her father grew this dealership together, and to continue on their legacy is truly an honor. As we now embark on our new journey as Celebrity Ford, my father, Tom Maoli, and myself are excited to continue the father-daughter tradition of ownership,” said Veronica Maoli, owner of Celebrity Ford of Toms River. “Melissa and I worked together throughout the entire acquisition, helping each other, making the process simple. Melissa has lifted me up, encouraged me, and offered her help as we continue to grow the business post-acquisition. It has been a true honor to be able to purchase this dealership from a fellow businesswoman. It is rare to find other businesswomen who are eager to empower other businesswomen, rather than pushing each other down to get to the top.”

Downs Ford is now known as Celebrity Ford of Toms River, joining Celebrity Motor Cars brands that include Lexus of Route 10, Maserati of Morris County, Alfa Romeo of Morris County, Maserati of Bergen County, BMW of Springfield, and Mercedes Benz of Goldens Bridge.

“This transaction is significant for many reasons, the first among them being that both operators are women. In a historically male-dominated space, women-operated dealerships are a powerful indicator the future of the automotive industry will not look like the past,” said Dave Cantin, Executive Chairman and CEO of the Dave Cantin Group. “We were honored to represent Veronica Maoli and Melissa Longo through this dealership buy/sell transaction that is representative of the needed contributions women are making in the automotive sector.”

Managing Director Drew Picon and Dave Cantin of the Dave Cantin Group represented both buyer and seller in the dealership buy/sell transaction.

About The Dave Cantin Group

The Dave Cantin Group is a financial advisory company focused on the automotive sector. There are several divisions within the Dave Cantin Group (DCG) that serve the varied financial, transactional, and advisory needs of DCG clients and assist in the company’s mission of advancing the automotive industry. DCG’s Acquisitions Division serves the M&A needs of some of the largest public and private automotive dealerships, groups, and businesses in the automotive industry. DCG’s Capital Division provides financial expertise and access to optimal terms and financing for the critical and varied financing needs of automotive dealerships and industry-based businesses. 

The Media Division has a single goal of assisting those in the automotive industry to grow and thrive in the space by providing industry insight through growth-focused content, and data, and boasts one of the largest media libraries in the industry. 

DCG Giving is the company’s 501(c)(3) nonprofit arm through which they connect the generosity of the automotive industry and ordinary people across the country to member organizations of the Children’s Oncology Group, the world’s largest alliance of pediatric cancer institutions. All funds raised by DCG Giving go directly toward supporting lifesaving research, clinical care, and support for young people with cancer and their families in local areas across the country. To learn more, visit