CLEVELAND -- Bernie Moreno has returned to Cleveland’s auto retail scene — at the highest end — after missing running dealerships.
In a telephone call this week, Moreno told Crain's Cleveland Business, an affiliate of Automotive News, that said he has bought back a 50 percent interest in the Cleveland Motorsports dealership in North Olmsted, Ohio, that sells the Aston Martin, Bentley and Rolls-Royce marques.
Moreno, who lives in the Cleveland area, had sold the dealership, along with his North Olmsted Maserati, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche dealerships to Rafih Auto Group of Windsor, Ontario, in March 2019. Specific financial terms of the buy-back transaction were not disclosed.
"It was just an opportunity to jump back in and be with the cars I love and get back to dealing with clients," he said. "It will just be me and three people."
Moreno told Automotive News last year that he planned to keep Buick-GMC of Beachwood near Cleveland and Infiniti of Coral Gables in Florida as he shifted business ventures to largely focus on tech startups. At its peak four years ago, Moreno's group had 15 stores representing 30 brands in four states with $1 billion in sales.
Moreno told Automotive News on Tuesday that he sold the Buick-GMC store in March to Crestmont Auto Group, and he still has the Infiniti store. He said he missed running dealerships and is handling the day-to-day operations of the North Olmstead luxury store.
When asked if he has any plans to buy any more dealerships, Moreno, in an email to Automotive News wrote “once the bug grabs you again ... it’s hard to stop!”
Terry Rafih, chairman and CEO of Rafih Auto Group, was not immediately available for comment.
Over the past few years Moreno has been focused on building businesses around blockchain, the digital technology that manages transactions securely. His digital company, Ownum, is developing several products. CHAMPtitles digitizes auto titles and VitalChain turns birth certificates into digital records.
Moreno also is the force behind the annual Blockland Solutions conference, which has run for the last two Decembers at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland. He said he's planning for a digital conference this year.
He's also a partner in City Block, a planned center for startup and young businesses at the Avenue at Tower City Center. Bedrock Detroit LLC , the development arm of Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, will be the developer of the center. Moreno said in the phone call that Bedrock continues to work on the development.
Melissa Burden of Automotive News contributed to this report.