Still, Cox's rapid expansion and massive reach was on display at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in Las Vegas in late March. Cox Automotive's numerous entities occupied more square footage on the exhibition floor -- 27,200 -- than Reynolds, CDK and General Motors combined, deploying 600 employees.
Cox isn't slowing down. "We are absolutely a growth company," Schwartz says. It expects to grow at a double-digit clip this year and to continue doing so for the next 20 years, according to Cox Enterprises' long-term plan.
In interviews, most dealers indicate they aren't particularly worried about Cox becoming too dominant of a vendor. But some are reserving judgment.
Brian Benstock, general manager of Paragon Honda in New York has used vAuto tools to manage his used-vehicle operations since before it was acquired by Cox Automotive. He is also a customer of Manheim, Dealertrack and Autotrader.com.
He was concerned at first about Cox Automotive's acquisition of vAuto because "Dale [Pollak] carried vAuto on his back."
But after seeing how Cox Automotive's many companies and platforms create "incredible" integration opportunities for dealers -- from vehicle acquisition to pricing to merchandising -- Benstock is sold. He said he also likes that the products "play nice" with his CDK dealer management system.
"These guys know what the heck they are doing," Benstock says.
Greg Kostern, business operations director at Johnson Automotive, a dealership group in Raleigh, N.C., says of Cox, "They're incredibly successful at everything they touch, [which is] indicative of management-side" strength.
But he warns that the company has to maintain the personal aspect of their client relationships. If that stops, he says, it would be the downside to Cox's growth. "At this point," though, "it's not happening," he says.
Joe Pritchard, owner of Pritchard Family Auto Stores in Iowa, says: "If they remember where they came from, bigger doesn't concern me. But if they forget where they came from, I would be concerned. Just because you're bigger doesn't mean you're better."