A growing dealership group purchased two stores in the fourth quarter, while a new operator acquired his first dealership and another bought her second, both in single-store transactions in the first quarter.
Here's a look at the deals involving domestic and import brand dealerships in Tennessee, Ohio and Missouri. One of the transactions involved a group ranked on Automotive News' top 150 dealership groups list.
ZT Motors adds two dealerships
ZT Motors, a unit of ZT Corporate, expanded its auto portfolio to a new state in the fourth quarter with the purchase of two dealerships in Tennessee.
ZT Motors on Dec. 15 bought Grindstaff Ford and Grindstaff Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in Elizabethton from Steve Grindstaff.
The dealerships were renamed Happy Valley Ford and Happy Valley Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram.
"We believe there's an opportunity to improve dealership operations under our management team," ZT Corporate CEO Taseer Badar said in a statement.
ZT Corporate, a private equity and wealth management firm, in 2015 bought its first dealerships in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. In 2020, ZT Corporate told Automotive News that it wanted to expand and buy up to 20 Southeast U.S. dealerships by 2023.
The firm added a Chevrolet dealership in Marietta, Ga., in 2019 and acquired three Houston-area dealerships from Prime Automotive Group in 2020. In February 2021, ZT Motors bought a Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram-Fiat dealership in Union City, Ga.
ZT Motors, of Houston, ranks No. 144 on Automotive News' list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., retailing 6,268 new vehicles in 2021.
Shepherd buys first dealership
Jacob Shepherd bought his first dealership last month when he purchased Joe Johnson Chevrolet in Troy, Ohio, from seller Joe Johnson.
Shepherd and business partner Jerry Frye on March 10 bought the dealership, which was renamed Chevrolet of Troy. Troy is north of Dayton, Ohio.
"I started in the automotive business in Cincinnati, Ohio, when I was 19 selling Chevrolets," Shepherd, the store's dealer principal, wrote in an email to Automotive News. "I spent many years in sales and an equal amount of time managing. I have no family in the business, but through hard work, consistency and being blessed, I am fortunate enough to be the proud owner of my first dealership."
Tim Wild of Tim Lamb Group, a buy-sell firm in Columbus, Ohio, represented the buyer in the transaction.
Morris buys second dealership
Stephanie Morris purchased her second dealership last month when she bought a Nissan outlet in Missouri.
Morris on March 10 bought Woody-Williams Nissan in Sedalia from the Woody family, according to Ben Hicks III, with buy-sell firm Hicks Management & Consulting Group Inc. in Arlington, Texas. The firm represented the seller in the sale.
The dealership was renamed Stephanie Morris Nissan. Sedalia is southeast of Kansas City.
Morris, the store's dealer principal and namesake of Stephanie Morris Auto Group, said in an email to Automotive News that she wanted to buy the Nissan dealership because of its reputation and that of the community.
She said she also was attracted by the dealership's employees, who have an average tenure of more than 15 years.
Morris bought her first dealership, James Hodge Chevrolet in Okmulgee, Okla., in May 2021. That dealership, south of Tulsa, was renamed Stephanie Morris Chevrolet.
And Morris said she plans to continue adding rooftops.
"I intend to aggressively increase my dealership portfolio, with select manufacturers, as long as I have the right operator for the available point," she said.