1 dealer, 3 consolidation experiences

It’s rare to meet a dealer who has sat on the sidelines of one dealership consolidation, bought into a different consolidation and sold a store as part of a third consolidation.

That dealer is Tim Mullahey, owner of Central Ford in Los Angeles.

Mullahey sat it out as Ford Motor Co. and surrounding dealers bought out an L.A. neighbor a few years back.

Then he participated with four other Ford dealers in buying out a store in Lompoc, Calif. -- north of Santa Barbara, he says.

In both instances, Mullahey benefited because of less competition. He says he has had increased service and sales business. Most important, he says, with inventory very tight for most U.S. Ford dealers, consolidation means one less dealership to compete with for that limited stock.

But Mullahey also has been in the spot most dealers never want to be in: He sold a Ford dealership as part of a consolidation deal near Palm Springs a few years ago.

“It was a smaller store,” Mullahey says. “I saw the writing on the wall.”

Still, it was a “difficult decision,” he says. Ford and the dealers who bought out his store were “very generous.”

And he had an advantage some dealers in that situation might not: owning other stores in prosperous markets.

“I put my resources into the other opportunities I have,” Mullahey says.

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