For 21 years, Black Enterprise has listed the nation's 100 biggest black-owned dealership groups. This year, it won't. The list has only 75.
Not that there aren't 100 left. But the magazine felt that to make a list of the biggest black-owned dealership groups, a dealership should be, well, big.
This year, "the 100th would have been a three-man operation," said Alan Hughes, editorial director of business/finance at the business publication. "We looked at the numbers, and we looked at all the dealerships that went out of business," Hughes told Automotive News. "We knew pretty early on that there was no way this list was going to 100."
Black Enterprise ranks dealership groups by revenue for the previous year. But the dramatic drop in sales industrywide has slashed revenues. The group at No. 75 had revenues of $18.8 million in 2008. On last year's list, No. 100 had revenues of $21.2 million.
The magazine also skipped naming an "Auto Dealer of the Year," an honor based on sales performance or industry innovation. To name such a dealer in such a tumultuous year would have been a disconnect, Hughes said.
The 75 groups on the list generated about $6.34 billion in combined revenues in 2008. That compares with $8.93 billion for the 100 groups in 2007.
This month Desmond Roberts, chairman of the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers, warned that minority dealers will "cease to be a part of the American industry" if carmakers and President Barack Obama's auto task force do not help keep them in business.
Twelve groups debuted on the list this year. The largest, ranked No. 3, is RLJ-McLarty-Landers Automotive Partnership, majority-owned by entertainment magnate Robert Johnson. The Little Rock, Ark., group, formed in 2007, recorded revenues of $481.0 million in 2008, Black Enterprise says.
Prestige Automotive Group, of suburban Detroit, remains No. 1 on the list for the sixth year in a row. March/Hodge Automotive, of Wesley Chapel, Fla., again is No. 2.
According to the Automotive News list of the top 125 U.S. dealership groups, Prestige Automotive posted revenues of $831.5 million in 2008 and March/Hodge $500.2 million.