The #1 Cochran dealership group in western Pennsylvania has bought two Kenny Ross Automotive Group dealerships from New York private equity firm GPB Capital Holdings, including #1 Cochran's first Chevrolet store and its fourth Nissan dealership.
It's the latest acquisition for #1 Cochran, which has acquired five dealerships in the past 10 months. It also bought an Audi dealership in mid-2017 and opened an Audi store at a new point last year.
Kenny Ross Chevrolet and Kenny Ross Nissan, both in Zelienople, Pa., have been part of GPB since July 2017, when the private equity firm bought a majority interest in the Kenny Ross dealerships. GPB's automotive investments operate as Prime Automotive Group, led by David Rosenberg.
The stores have been renamed #1 Cochran Chevrolet and #1 Cochran Nissan Cranberry. The deal closed last week, and purchase prices were undisclosed.
The acquisitions help #1 Cochran bolster its position in the market and diversify its offerings. In April, the company acquired Pittsburgh East Nissan and West Hills Nissan from longtime local dealer Michael McWilliams and in July bought Bob Massie Toyota in North Huntingdon from the Massie family. #1 Cochran now operates 29 franchises in 24 rooftops, plus four standalone used-vehicle stores.
Rob Cochran, #1 Cochran CEO, told Automotive News that he sees an opportunity to grow sales at the Kenny Ross stores. He said the deal was attractive because the two dealerships are in a growth corridor. Cochran was looking to add Chevrolet after selling other General Motors-brand vehicles for more than 50 years, and the acquisition of its fourth Nissan store in the Pittsburgh market gives it more scale and efficiency in marketing, inventory and personnel.
#1 Cochran also bought a collision center in Zelienople as part of the deal, which will become #1 Cochran's eighth regional Body by Cochran Collision/Customization location.
Cochran's slowing pace
Cochran said he's not closing the door on acquiring more dealerships, but said he doubts the rapid pace would continue.
"We certainly have a lot to absorb and focus on and improve and live up to the expectation we have and manufacturers have," he said.
GPB Capital sold the two dealerships because they aren't near other Kenny Ross stores and weren't performing well enough, Rosenberg, CEO of Prime Motor Group and Prime Automotive Group, said in an email to Automotive News.
GPB in 2017 acquired a majority stake in Prime Motor Group of Westwood, Mass., and formed Prime Automotive, which now oversees 61 rooftops. Rosenberg heads both.
"We may make strategic dispositions of smaller stores in certain markets which don’t conform to our long-term strategy," Rosenberg said.
But Prime Motor Group is acquiring. It recently bought the Gallery Automotive Group of Norwood, Mass., from Marubeni America Corp.
The deal, announced Feb. 14, included six dealerships: BMW Gallery of Norwood, South Shore BMW and South Shore Mini in Rockland, Volkswagen Gallery in Norwood, Honda Gallery in Reading and Mazda Gallery in Norwood.
Prime Motor said Gordon Chu, CEO of Gallery Automotive, will continue to run the stores, plus several other Prime South Shore locations.
Prime Automotive ranks No. 13 on Automotive News' list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., retailing 46,163 new vehicles in 2017. #1 Cochran Automotive of Monroeville, Pa., ranks No. 93 on Automotive News' list, retailing 10,707 new vehicles in 2017.