Car dealer Rick Hendrick has a message for auto retailers looking to sell their family business: He's still buying.
"I'm open and I believe in going where the opportunity is," said Hendrick, whose Hendrick Automotive Group is about to become the biggest privately owned dealership group in the U.S.
He says he prefers to buy or open new stores in areas where he has dealerships, but he's not ruling out entering new markets.
Hendrick, 65, does not have a specific growth target. He holds 94 dealerships, having acquired 36 since the start of 2010, increasing his store count by nearly two-thirds. In an interview last week, he said his strategy is unaffected by two giant buy-sell deals this month.
On Oct. 1, Lithia Motors Inc. completed its purchase of DCH Auto Group, creating a group with 128 dealerships. The next day, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said it would buy the privately owned Van Tuyl Group. When that deal closes, Hendrick Automotive, now the sixth-largest dealership group in the country, will also rank as the No. 1 privately held group.
Hendrick said he has tentatively ruled out overseas expansion. He sees too many opportunities in the U.S. And by buying dealerships here, Hendrick can absorb and groom his own talent.