RICHARD JOHNSON

Why George Chaconas is such a busy man

Richard Johnson is editor of Automotive News -- print.Richard Johnson is editor of Automotive News -- print.
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NEW ORLEANS -- Sit with dealmaker George Chaconas of Performance Brokerage Services at the Starbucks outside the convention hall, and you discover a busy guy.

"Well, the dealers just got out a meeting," he says as a herd of well-dressed retailers stream by -- a couple of whom seem anxious to meet up with Chaconas right then and there.

A lot of dealers want to check in with brokers at this convention, but they tend to be buyers.

"It's unbelievable how much activity there is," said Chaconas. "I've got more buyers than I know what to do with. I've got more bankers chasing me for deals than ever. The difficulty is finding realistically motivated sellers."

Many dealers want to ride out what's left of the booming market before calling a broker about selling their stores.

"There is still some of that mentality," Chaconas said. "I'm telling dealers we're reaching the peak again."

And when sellers do show up it is sometimes with outsized ambitions.

"It is really down to sellers' expectations," he said

Chaconas spent time recently with the head of one of the public dealership groups who complained that sellers' price expectations were getting "frothy."

And then there is the question of what to do with the windfall?

Chaconas: "They say, 'George you can get me $5 or $6 million, but what am I going to do with it?'"

"They say: 'Where am I going to get my return, George?'

"There is more risk in the stock market than running their own business -- something they can control. And these guys are control freaks.

"They say, 'George you can get me $5 or $6 million, but what am I going to do with it? And I tell them: 'At least you'll be able to sleep.'"

You can reach Richard Johnson at rjohnson@crain.com.

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