Stellantis, Ford, GM and Mercedes-Benz dealerships trade hands in Q4
Four auto retailers expanded their dealership portfolios with fourth-quarter acquisitions across four states.
Here’s a look at deals involving domestic and luxury brands and dealerships in Montana, Missouri, New Jersey and Michigan. One transaction involved an auto retailer ranked on Automotive News‘ list of the top 150 dealership groups.
Germain Automotive expands into Montana
Germain Automotive Group, of Columbus, Ohio, has entered Montana with the acquisition of a multibranded domestic dealership.
The group on Nov. 8 bought Snowy Mountain Motors, a Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram-Chevrolet-Ford dealership in Lewistown from Tony Pierce of T.M. Pierce Inc., according to John Malishenko, COO of Germain Automotive.
Tony Pierce was a nominee for the 2022 Time Dealer of the Year award.
Lewistown is in the center of the state. Malishenko said Germain CEO Steve Germain and his family have a home and a hotel in the area.
“The acquisition was an extension of that,” he wrote in an email to Automotive News.
Malishenko confirmed that this was the group’s first acquisition since Germain Automotive entered Arizona in the fall of 2021, buying Surprise Honda, northwest of Phoenix. The retailer also has dealerships in Ohio, Michigan and Florida.
Germain Automotive ranks No. 75 on Automotive News’ most recent list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., retailing 13,332 new vehicles in 2021.
Leta and grandsons expand in Missouri
The grandfather and grandsons team of Frank Leta Auto Group expanded in Missouri with the purchase of VanMatre Buick-GMC in Cape Girardeau.
Frank Leta and his grandsons Michael Brown and Steve Brown on Nov. 14 purchased the store from Mark VanMatre and renamed it Frank Leta Buick-GMC.
Hoping to diversify with a domestic brand, Steve Brown, operations manager, told Automotive News that they purchased the southern Missouri store primarily because of its location.
Cape Girardeau is “a great market,” he said, “and a hub town for many other neighboring cities.”
Frank Leta Auto, of St. Louis, owns four other stores in Missouri, including its second-most recent purchase, Acura of Springfield, which it acquired in 2020. The group also sells Honda and Mitsubishi vehicles.
It has no deals pending, but it would be interested in acquiring stores in the future “if the right opportunity came up,” Steve Brown said.
Steve Brown said the staff at the Cape Girardeau dealership was maintained and there are no plans to make facility changes.
Mark Shackelford and Paul Kechnie, partners representing Midwest and Texas regions for buy-sell firm Performance Brokerage Services, of Irvine, Calif., facilitated the transaction.
Piazza Auto adds Mercedes-Benz store
Piazza Auto Group said it acquired Mercedes-Benz of Atlantic City in Egg Harbor Township, N.J., adding another store of the luxury brand to its portfolio, according to a LinkedIn post from a group executive.
Tony Piazza, director of operations, announced the purchase Nov. 1 on LinkedIn.
The dealership was owned by Michael Sloane of Park Avenue Motor Cars Atlantic City, according to a New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission new-car dealer renewal application in 2022.
Sloane told Automotive News that the deal closed Nov. 1.
Piazza also has Mercedes-Benz dealerships in West Chester, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., according to its website.
Sloane confirmed to Automotive News that he also sold the West Chester dealership to Piazza in December 2021. Sloane still owns a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Fort Washington, Pa.
Lunghamer buys Ford dealership in Michigan
A Michigan car dealer has expanded his group with the purchase of a Ford dealership on Oct. 31 and has converted another Ford store into a used-vehicle sales and service location.
Joe Lunghamer, president of Lunghamer Auto Group, purchased Signature Auto Group in Owosso, Mich., from Joe Falzon and his daughter Angela Pascotto.
Falzon and Pascotto also owned Signature Ford in Perry, Mich. Owosso and Perry are about 13 miles apart.
Falzon told Automotive News that “Ford came in during the sale and worked with [Lunghamer] on an offer” to consolidate the stores. A Ford spokeswoman declined to comment.
Lunghamer renamed the dealership Lunghamer Ford of Owosso and the used-vehicle store Lunghamer Auto of Perry.
The acquisition brings the Lunghamer group to three new-vehicle Michigan dealerships. It also owns Joe Lunghamer Chevrolet and Lunghamer Buick-GMC, both in Waterford.
Joe Lunghamer also owns Flagship Ford in Baldwin, Wis., and Flagship Chevrolet-Buick in Zumbrota, Minn., operated by his business partner, John Buelow.
Pascotto was honored among Automotive News’ 40 under 40 in 2012, and Falzon retired at the conclusion of the sale.
“I’ve been in the car business 51 years,” Falzon said. “If I didn’t retire now, I probably never would.”
Signature Auto sold its Owosso Lincoln dealership in 2021 to LaFontaine Automotive Group, which temporarily moved the Lincoln franchise to its Ford store in nearby Flushing, Mich.
Lunghamer said any future dealership purchases would be determined by circumstance and opportunity.
“I’ve been doing this since 1987. My window is still open. But at some point, it will close,” he said. “It’s a big meal to buy a dealership. I’d like to digest for a little while.”
The Signature sale was facilitated by Kechnie of Performance Brokerage Services.
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