GM, Stellantis and Mercedes-Benz dealerships sell in Q4 deals

January 6, 2023

Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram, General Motors and Mercedes-Benz dealerships were sold in fourth-quarter transactions in three states. Two of the transactions involved Canadian dealership groups — Alpha Auto Group and Foundation Automotive Corp. — buying U.S. stores.

Originally written for Automotive News by Jack Walsworth

Two Canadian dealership groups expanded their U.S. portfolios, a growing dealership group added more stores, and a dealer bought his second franchised store — all in fourth-quarter transactions.

Here’s a look at the deals involving domestic and luxury dealerships and stores in California, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.

Nouri/Shaver expand with acquisitions, formalize partnership

Bob Nouri and Pete Shaver ended a busy, acquisitive year with the Dec. 20 purchase of Suburban Buick-GMC-Cadillac of Costa Mesa in California, Nouri confirmed to Automotive News.

It marks the first Cadillac franchise for the duo, Nouri said. They renamed the store Costa Mesa Buick-GMC-Cadillac.

Suburban Collection, founded by the Fischer family in 1948, sold the Costa Mesa store, Nouri said. That California store was not included in Lithia Motors Inc.’s April 2021 purchase of 34 new-car dealerships from Suburban Collection in Michigan.

Nouri and Shaver’s December acquisition followed a busy November for the pair, during which they purchased another domestic dealership, were awarded an open-point new-car store and formalized their joint venture: Nouri/Shaver Automotive Group.

Nouri and Shaver on Nov. 16 bought WIN Chevrolet in Carson, Calif., from Jerry Heuer and Hani Nassif, Nouri confirmed. They renamed that dealership Chevrolet of Carson. Costa Mesa and Carson are south of Los Angeles.

Nassif and Heuer sold the last of their dealerships. That duo also on Nov. 16 sold the former WIN Hyundai Carson to Brandon Steven Motors.

Nouri said he and Shaver plan to add some staff at the Chevrolet dealership, but have no changes planned for the facility. “It’s already a beautiful building,” he said.

Nearly two weeks after closing on the Chevrolet store, Nouri and Shaver on Nov. 28 got the approval to open their awarded open-point store: LAX Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in Inglewood, Calif., also nearby Los Angeles.

In June, Nouri and Shaver also purchased Sacramento Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in California from Potamkin Automotive Group Inc.

Nouri said he hopes to close on four more dealership purchases in the next 60 days. If successful, Nouri said, the deals will involve stores representing Ford, Kia and Hyundai brands.

Nouri and Shaver’s dealerships in 2021 sold about 40,000 combined new- and used- vehicles, generating about $1.75 billion in revenue, according to Performance Brokerage Services, a buy-sell firm in Irvine, Calif., which represented the sellers in the WIN Chevrolet transaction. That firm’s co-founder Jason Stopnitzky brokered the deal.

In October, Nouri and Shaver also appointed Armina Mgerian as CEO of their dealership group, Nouri said.

Foundation Automotive grows in Tennessee

Canadian auto retailer Foundation Automotive Corp., which entered Tennessee in July, further expanded in the southern state with a fourth-quarter acquisition.

Foundation Automotive on Dec. 14 bought Humboldt Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in Humboldt, Tenn., the auto retailer confirmed.

Foundation Automotive purchased the store from Lonnie Cobb. The dealership’s name remains. Cobb still owns a Ford dealership in Henderson, Tenn., Foundation Automotive said.

Humboldt is west of Nashville. One of the four dealerships Foundation Automotive bought in July from Jones Motor Co. is in Humboldt, while the other three are in Savannah, Tenn., east of Memphis and north of the Mississippi and Alabama borders.

“This is our fifth acquisition in Tennessee with an additional two stores in the Nashville area closing in early 2023,” Foundation Automotive CEO Kevin Kutschinski said in a statement.

In August, Foundation Automotive bought a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Texas.

Foundation Automotive, of Calgary, Alberta, has a U.S. base in Houston. In addition to Tennessee and Texas, the group has dealerships in Colorado and North Dakota, plus three in Canada.

Canada's Alpha Auto Group expands in the U.S.

Canada’s Alpha Auto Group in November expanded its U.S. holdings into its second state with the purchase of its first Mercedes-Benz store, in Fresno, Calif.

The transaction to buy Mercedes-Benz of Fresno closed Nov. 22, with Scott Biehl and Triunity Automotive Group as sellers, said George Karolis, president of Presidio Group, an investment banking and advisory firm based in Atlanta and Denver. The firm represented the sellers in the transaction.

“We are thrilled to welcome our new Fresno teammates to the AAG family,” Alpha Auto Group said in a statement. “Adding Mercedes-Benz to our lineup has long been a goal of ours. We are excited to add the dynamic California market to our portfolio. It is a strategic addition and building block for our growth.”

The deal also included the sale of Central Valley Fleet Sales & Service in Fresno, a used-vehicle retailer and fleet service business, to Alpha Auto, Karolis told Automotive News in an email.

Alpha Auto of Toronto, Ontario, entered the U.S. in 2018 with the purchase Wilsonville Toyota and Wilsonville Subaru in Oregon. The group on its website said it is looking to buy single dealerships and dealer groups with as many 20 stores across Canada and the U.S.

Biehl said he no longer has any dealerships. In August, Triunity Automotive sold Jaguar-Land Rover Los Angeles to US Auto Trust, a dealership group led by Edward Glazer, an owner of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Biehl was dealer principal of that store, and Presidio Group also represented him and Triunity Automotive in that sale.

Raymond acquires second new-car store

Gerry Raymond, president of Gerry Raymond Automotive, in October bought his second new-car dealership, Gerry Raymond Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram of Brookville, in Western Pennsylvania.

Drew Picon, a managing director of DCG Acquisitions, a Dave Cantin Group company, said he represented both buyer and seller in the Oct. 27 transaction.

The selling dealer was William J. Kelly of the former Kelly Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram store.

Raymond made his first dealership acquisition in 2021, buying the former Team Chevrolet-Buick-GMC, in Wintersville, Ohio, west of Pittsburgh. It was renamed Gerry Raymond Chevrolet-Buick-GMC. Another Dave Cantin Group company, DCG Capital, facilitated that earlier purchase, Picon said.

Raymond participated in DCG Capital’s Ownership Accelerator Program, which helps managers and executives at franchised dealerships and used-car stores buy their first new-vehicle store.

Capital for the Stellantis dealership acquisition was provided by Live Oak Bank and the buyer also was assisted by consultant Biltmore Automotive Services.

Raymond, in a phone interview, said that for his second purchase he sought a Stellantis dealership. “I already have Chevrolet-Buick-GMC, so I was looking to diversify myself, and my customers, with more brands,” he said.

Brookville, Pa. is a rural market, Raymond said, with the advantage of a large territory with few other dealerships around.

“With the surrounding areas, there’s so much business to be had and I think customers would really like to see somebody with a more aggressive approach like we have,” he said. “There are not as many dealerships in close proximity, for a 40- or 50-mile radius.”

Kelly’s father, former auto industry executive William S. Kelly, the former CEO of Saab Cars USA Inc., served as an informal adviser in the buy-sell negotiations, the son said.

William J. Kelly said the Chevrolet-Buick-GMC store was his only dealership. Dealerships are in demand and the current seller’s market was a factor in the decision to sell, he said.

“I’m going to retire — for right now,” Kelly said, adding “it was time” to sell.