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Dealer group roundup: Moves at Group 1, Steele, Hello & Castle

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The dealership news roundup includes a store opening, another rooftop changing hands and a group expanding its leadership team.

Let’s begin with more activity within mergers and acquisitions, as Haig Partners served as the exclusive sell-side advisor to Group 1 Automotive on the sale of Sterling McCall Hyundai South Loop in Houston to Steele Auto Group.

The deal announced on Thursday involved two of the largest groups in North America. Haig noted that publicly traded Group 1 generated $13.5 billion in revenue and retailed 307,000 new and used vehicles last year, while Steele is Atlantic Canada’s largest auto dealership group with 55 franchised dealerships, seven independent dealerships, three powersports dealerships and eight collision centers.

Steele has since expanded into the U.S., as Sterling McCall Hyundai is its sixth U.S. dealership, all in Texas. The dealership will be rebranded Steele South Loop Hyundai.  

With the sale of Sterling McCall Hyundai South Loop, the team at Haig Partners has been involved in the purchase or sale of 79 dealerships in Texas.

“It was an honor to represent Group 1 Automotive in the sale of Sterling McCall Hyundai South Loop in Houston. Sometimes the best buyer for a dealership is located right next door. But in this case, our process surfaced the best buyer in Canada, 2,500 miles away,” Haig Partners president Alan Haig said in a news release.

“This transaction is further proof that many buyers are interested in expanding into Texas,” Haig continued. “With high population growth, low taxes and a business-friendly climate, Texas, Florida and other similar markets bring elevated dealership values. The transaction also demonstrates that demand for dealerships remains high even though the macroeconomic outlook is troubled at the moment.

“Dealerships are still producing record levels of profits, so buyers want more of them,” he went on to say.

Hello Auto Group opens new Subaru dealership

Switching from the Lone Star State to the Golden State, Hello Auto Group this week announced today the opening of its new Subaru dealership in California.

The group now includes Kia of Valencia and Hello Mazda of Valencia (located in Santa Clarita) Hello Mazda of Temecula and Hello Subaru of Temecula (located in Temecula) and Hello Mazda of San Diego.

The new Subaru dealership includes 24 service bays and created more than 70 jobs in the Valencia-Santa Clarita community.

“Hello Auto Group is excited to open a new location in Valencia-Santa Clarita,” Hello Auto president Karl Schmidt said in a news release. “As we grow in the Southern California region, we are confident our new dealerships will provide exceptional value and services to the surrounding community.”

The group mentioned that Subaru moved out of Valencia three years ago, leaving Subaru owners having to travel roughly 18 miles and upwards of an hour outside this community to find the nearest Subaru dealership.

“Our new Hello Subaru dealership in Valencia-Santa Clarita is going to fill a void in the community and will also bring a fresh approach to car sales,” Schmidt said. “The Hello Auto Groups unique upfront business model and commitment to giving back to the community aligns with the Subaru brand and has received positive reception throughout California.”

Hello uses a one-person sales model; a strategy suggested by industry leader Chip Perry.

“We aim to alleviate the stress that comes with buying a car,” Hello general manager Angel Maldonado said in the news release. “Hello Auto Group is proud to offer customer-centric services and processes that allow buyers to have the most seamless purchasing experience possible. It’s with great joy that we can expand our community-based business into new areas, yet still take our core values of being genuine, honest, respectful, and fair with us.”

Hello Auto Group also is committed to giving back to the community, so $25 from every vehicle delivery and $1 from every repair order go to a local philanthropic fund.

Castle Automotive Group adds to marketing leadership team

This week, Castle Automotive Group (CAG) expanded its marketing leadership team by bringing on Giancarlo Montenegro as director of marketing operations.

“Giancarlo’s ever evolving digital marketing experience is vital to the growth and direction of our internal marketing organization,” chief marking officer Sean Seltzer, who joined CAG in May.

“As Castle Automotive Group continues to evolve our marketing into a true transparent experience for all customers, Giancarlo’s skillset and drive for success will be a crucial part of our future,” Seltzer continued as the group currently owns nine dealership locations with 14 franchises throughout Illinois and northwest Indiana,

Montenegro possesses more than a decade of agency experience, overseeing digital strategy for multiple Fortune 100 companies across the automotive, financial/investment and technology sectors. He specializes in the curation of harmonious strategies across platforms to bridge the divide between media efficiencies and direct business objectives.

Montenegro joins the Castle Automotive Group fresh off his tenure as social director at Reunion Marketing. While at Reunion, CAG highlighted that Montenegro led a successful enhancement of Reunion’s product suite, propelling the firm to the forefront of Tier 3 automotive paid social.



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