Domestic and import dealerships in Massachusetts, Virginia, Wisconsin and Indiana traded hands in three first-quarter deals and a third-quarter 2022 transaction.
Three dealership groups expanded in three first-quarter transactions, while an auto retailer and partner added a pair of stores in a third-quarter 2022 deal.
Here’s a look at the transactions involving domestic and import dealerships in Massachusetts, Virginia, Wisconsin and Indiana.
Village Automotive adds Stellantis dealership
Ray Ciccolo, the 85-year-old president of Village Automotive Group, continues to grow his Boston-area enterprise, most recently with the February acquisition of Brigham-Gill Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram in Natick, Mass.
He plans to pursue more dealership purchases in the months ahead despite a competitive market.
“We’re continuing to talk to people,” Ciccolo told Automotive News. “So many people are also trying to acquire dealerships.”
Ciccolo bought the Stellantis store on Feb. 14 with Village Automotive COO and son-in-law Anthony Bartolotti. The sale allowed Brigham-Gill owner Richard Gill to retire, according to Carrie Forbes, vice president of Nancy Phillips Associates, an Exeter, N.H., buy-sell firm that represented Gill in the transaction.
The store will keep its name with slight tweaks: Brigham-Gill Village Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram. Natick is west of Boston.
Village Automotive Group in 2021 bought Moore GMC Truck in Danvers, Mass., north of Boston.
Gill’s father, Joseph, opened his store in 1966, and Richard Gill began working there while in high school, according to Nancy Phillips Associates.
Village Automotive was formed in the early 1960s, starting with Ciccolo’s purchase of a Rambler-Volvo dealership in Boston after walking in, initially, to buy a used car.
Both dealership owners knew of each other for a long time, Forbes said.
The deal injects high-volume domestic brands into Village Automotive’s mix of mostly import dealerships, Nancy Phillips Associates said.
One factor behind the acquisition was personal: Ciccolo said he used to be a Jeep dealer years ago and missed that experience.
“I always wanted to get back into the Jeep business, and [this acquisition] offered me the chance,” Ciccolo said.
Brigham-Gill was a single dealership, situated on 2.3 acres, with 62 employees, according to Forbes. Village Automotive, by contrast, has more than 500 employees.
Carver adds domestic stores
Jarryd Carver, president of Winners Circle Automotive Group, has again expanded his dealership portfolio, with January acquisitions of Stellantis and General Motors dealerships.
Carver on Jan. 31 bought Franklin Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram and Franklin Chevrolet-Buick-GMC in Virginia from Sean Earley, according to Stacy Pauley, operations manager for the Winners Circle group.
The dealerships were renamed Winners Circle Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram and Winners Circle Chevrolet-Buick-GMC. Franklin is in southern Virginia, near the North Carolina border.
The acquisition follows Carver’s October purchase of a Hampton, Va., Mitsubishi store. He was an Automotive News‘ 40 Under 40 honoree in 2018.
Winners Circle also includes Stellantis and Nissan dealerships in Hampton and a Mazda store in Newport News, Va.
Marthaler, Menke expand in Wisconsin
Marthaler Auto Group, led by CEO Aaron Marthaler, has grown to eight dealerships in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, aided by last summer’s purchase of two dealerships in Schofield, Wis., in the middle of the state.
The group purchased the former Fred Mueller Automotive, a Buick-GMC store, and Fred Mueller Mazda in partnership with minority owner and dealer principal Jay Menke. Menke was a seasoned general manager for the Marthaler group, of Glenwood, Minn.
The dealerships were renamed Menke Buick-GMC and Menke Mazda. Broker Paul Kechnie, of the Texas and Midwest region of Performance Brokerage Services, a buy-sell firm in Irvine, Calif., facilitated the transaction.
The buyers “like the brands, they like the size of that particular city,” Kechnie said in a phone interview. “Aaron is already in Wisconsin. It makes sense to keep expanding there.”
The transaction closed Aug. 25, and the selling dealer was Fred Mueller, who retired, Kechnie said.
Aaron Marthaler, in a separate phone interview, said Menke previously was part owner and general manager of two dealerships in Worthington, Minn. — the former Marthaler Ford of Worthington and Marthaler Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram of Worthington.
The Marthaler group sold those dealerships in March 2022 to Billion Automotive of Sioux Falls, S.D. Menke relocated to Wisconsin to run the new additions, Aaron Marthaler said.
Ed Martin Automotive adds pair of stores
Two family businesses involved in a two-store transaction in Anderson, Ind., in January were indirect competitors in the same market for decades. But they knew and respected each other, so it was only natural that Ed Martin Automotive Group would be the one to buy the stores when the sellers decided to divest, according to Mark Harrison, president and dealer principal for Ed Martin Automotive, of Indianapolis.
Harrison said in a phone interview that his wife, Kathy Martin Harrison, is CEO of the group. Her father, Ed Martin, who died in 2005, was the group’s founder.
Ed Martin Automotive on Jan. 30 purchased the former Myers Autoworld, a Buick-GMC dealership, and Ford Autoworld. They were renamed Ed Martin Buick-GMC of Anderson and Ed Martin Ford. Anderson is northeast of Indianapolis.
“We’ve known each other since the mid-’80s, and we’ve both had stores in Anderson forever,” Mark Harrison said. He said Ed Martin Automotive retained nearly all the employees, which also contributed to an amicable sale.
He said he was particularly keen to get the Ford store. The Ed Martin group previously had a Ford store but sold it years ago.
“The impetus behind this purchase was really to get the Ford brand and get it back in our family,” he said.
The sellers for both dealerships were Mary Jamerson, CEO, and Pamela Hockema, a minority shareholder who “was not active in the dealerships,” according to lawyer Geoffrey Grodner.
The sellers do not own any other new-car dealerships, but “Mrs. Jamerson does retain an interest in a small used-vehicle dealership,” Grodner said in an email.
Grodner and Erick Gjerdingen of Mallor Grodner law firm represented the sellers in the deal, while Jeffrey Abrams, a partner in Taft Stettinius & Hollister law firm, represented the buyer.
“It was a natural,” Mark Harrison said of the transaction. “I think the employees also felt better about it, rather than bringing in some big corporation from Florida or somewhere.”