After spotting a dealership's help wanted sign during a small-town refueling stop led James Gramm into car sales in 1983, he became a dealer nearly 20 years later on April Fools' Day in 2002.
"The letters on the front of the building were made of Styrofoam," Gramm told Automotive News this week, laughing as he recalled how the Dodge dealership in Fredericksburg, Va., looked on the day he bought it. "One letter fell off as I pulled up. It literally fell off the building."
That dive of a dealership launched Safford Automotive Group, now one of the country's largest auto retailers after completing the industry's largest new-vehicle store acquisition deal so far in 2022, as tracked by Automotive News.
On Nov. 7, Gramm's Safford Automotive bought 16 stores in Maryland and Virginia from Brown Automotive Group, more than doubling its store count. The deal adds 14 franchised dealerships, one used-vehicle store and a muscle and classic car store to Safford, of Springfield, Va., Gramm said.