A Canadian auto retailer continued its U.S. expansion, a growing New York dealership group added a store, brothers added a second dealership and siblings sold their only dealership in separate second- and third-quarter transactions.
Here’s a look at the deals involving domestic and import dealerships and stores in California, Florida and New York. Two transactions involved a dealership ranked on Automotive News‘ list of the top 150 dealership groups.
Canada’s Knight Automotive purchases third California dealership
Canadian auto retailer Knight Automotive Group purchased a Stellantis dealership in Claremont, Calif., on June 15 from John Elway Dealership Group, Knight Automotive’s third store in the state and the U.S.
The former John Elway’s Claremont Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram was renamed Knight Claremont Chrysler Dodge-Jeep-Ram. Claremont is east of Los Angeles.
Knight Automotive purchased Sunrise Ford Fontana and Sunrise Ford North Hollywood, both in Southern California, in December.
Western Canada’s Knight Automotive, headed by Kevin Knight, has locations in Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Braeden Mueller, vice president of Knight Automotive, said the Claremont dealership’s location made it a good choice for Knight Automotive.
“We have a lot of Stellantis stores in Canada, we’re very familiar with the brand,” Mueller told Automotive News. “Then, logistically it made a lot of sense. It’s right off I-10 and in between our two Ford stores.”
The 65,000-square-foot dealership opened in 2017, according to Performance Brokerage Services, a buy-sell firm in Irvine, Calif., that represented Knight Automotive in the transaction. Jason Stopnitzky, co-founder of the firm, was the broker.
“It’s a brand-new facility from the previous ownership group. But it’s all been renovated over two years,” Mueller said. “We’ve also retained everyone that wanted to stay within the group.”
Mueller said Knight Automotive will continue to look to expand in California.
Elway, a former NFL star and longtime Denver Broncos quarterback, owns several dealerships with partners. Elway got into auto retailing years ago, selling numerous stores in 1997 to Republic Industries Inc., which later became AutoNation Inc.
John Elway Dealership Group of Englewood, Colo., ranks No. 102 on Automotive News‘ list of the top 150 dealership groups in the U.S., retailing 10,120 new vehicles in 2021.
Fuller brothers sell Stellantis store in California
Two brothers ended a three-generation run in the auto retail business with the July 12 sale of Hunter Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram-Fiat in Lancaster, Calif., according to Gary Mull of buy-sell firm National Business Brokers.
Tim and Tom Fuller of H.W. Hunter Inc. in Lancaster sold the dealership to David Massoudi of Axis Automotive Group, he said. Lancaster is north of Los Angeles.
The business had been family owned since 1944 when the Fuller brothers’ grandfather Hank Hunter bought a Dodge and Plymouth dealership. The Stellantis store later moved to an upgraded facility in the Lancaster Auto Mall. Tim and Tom Fuller, who joined the business in 1997, took over the store after their father died in 2002.
Because they had no family members available to pass the business on to, the brothers decided to sell the store and retire.
“We were amazed at how quickly this deal came together,” Tim Fuller said in a statement.
Massoudi is manager of Axis Automotive in Mission Hills, Calif., Mull confirmed. The Lancaster purchase adds a fourth store to the group’s portfolio that includes Nissan stores in Costa Mesa, Gardena and Mission Hills, Mull said.
Mull and Brady Schmidt, co-CEOs of National Business Brokers, handled the transaction.
Serpentini brothers expand holdings in Florida
Brothers Ryan Serpentini and Robert Serpentini III added a second Florida store to their portfolio with the May 6 purchase of Delray Mitsubishi in Delray Beach from Rod Rifai of Luxury-Performance Automotive Group.
The store was renamed Performance Mitsubishi. Delray Beach is on Florida’s southeast coast.
Serpentini III said the brothers also own Performance Nissan in Pompano Beach, about 20 miles south of Delray Beach.
While the brothers own and operate the Performance stores independently in southeast Florida, they are under the umbrella of Serpentini Auto Group in Cleveland, a company started by their father 40 years ago, Serpentini III said.
After graduating from Florida Atlantic University in 2010, Serpentini III said he liked the area and wanted to stay. He and his brother bought the Nissan store in 2013. The latest purchase seemed like a good move to diversify their holdings, he said.
“It’s going really well,” Serpentini III told Automotive News. He said they kept the store’s original staff and added people, too. They also have plans to modernize the building in the next six months.
Serpentini III is dealer principal of both stores.
Luxury-Performance Automotive Group is based in Miami. Bob Morris of Tim Lamb Group, a Columbus, Ohio buy-sell firm, represented Luxury-Performance in the transaction.
Empire Automotive buys Chevrolet dealership
Empire Automotive Group of Huntington Station, N.Y., added its fourth dealership in just over sixth months when on June 20 it purchased Robert Chevrolet in Hicksville, N.Y., from Robert and Scott Brown.
Robert Brown and his son Scott Brown were second- and third-generation owners of the store that Robert Brown’s father originally opened in the early 1960s, according to Joseph Gentile, general counsel for Empire Automotive.
Empire Automotive renamed the dealership Empire Chevrolet of Hicksville. Hicksville is a hamlet on Long Island.
Robert Brown planned to retire following the sale of the family’s only store, while Scott Brown stayed on as general manager, Gentile told Automotive News in an email.
Gentile said Empire kept all staff after the sale, with plans to add more people, and has begun enlarging the showroom.
In December 2021, Empire purchased a Volvo dealership in St. James, N.Y., and a Buick-GMC-Cadillac dealership in Long Island City, N.Y. In April 2022, the company opened Empire Hyundai of Jamaica, an open-point dealership. The company also is in contract to add two New York dealerships by the end of the year, Gentile said.
Empire CEO Michael Brown — no relation to Robert or Scott Brown — is “interested in any and all deals which he feels make good business sense in the continued growth of the Empire Automotive Group,” Gentile said. Brown also factors in a dealership’s reputation and Robert Chevrolet fit their needs.
“Robert Chevrolet built a wonderful reputation for the Chevrolet brand in their market, so when the opportunity came up to purchase the dealership, it was a no-brainer,” Gentile said.
Empire Automotive ranks No. 98 on Automotive News‘ list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., retailing 10,559 new vehicles in 2021.