December 8, 2022

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Automotive to Us

Dealer groups notes: Vaughan Automotive acquires Mike Calvert Toyota

This roundup of dealer group news begins with another dealership changing hands.

According to a news release sent on Thursday, Vaughan Automotive has purchased Mike Calvert Toyota, one of the fastest-growing Toyota dealerships in Houston.

While the pandemic made it challenging for many businesses, Vaughan Automotive said Mike Calvert Toyota retained its entire staff and added new employees to further serve its customer base. As a result, the group said Mike Calvert Toyota sold more than 6,000 new and pre-owned vehicles and highlighted several store achievements, including:

—Total 2021 new Toyota volume 108.3% of prior year versus Gulf State Toyota (GST) Region at 101.9%.

—Total 2021 Toyota Certified Used Vehicle (TCUV) 112.3% of prior year versus GST at 105.7%

—Grown Service Technician staff from 22 to 55

—26 local associate degree scholarship graduates, current Highschool CTE apprentices

—Total sales year-over-year (2021 versus 2020) posting a more than 130% increase

—Customer labor sales (2021 versus 2020) generating a 161.0% increase

—Ranked sixth in GST for 2021 (157 dealerships) by percentage increase for fixed operations sales growth.

“I am thrilled to continue Mike Calvert’s legacy and build on the foundation he laid,” Vaughan Automotive owner and chief executive officer Shawn Vaughan said in the news release.

“Over the past year, we’ve seen exponential growth, not only in sales, but also in our dealership team. It’s critical to me to create a world-class customer and employee environment at Mike Calvert Toyota, something that our Houston and surrounding area communities deserve,” Vaughan continued.

Now with Vaughan as owner and CEO, Mike Calvert Toyota — which has been serving the Houston community for more than 44 years — is undergoing renovations to update the customer amenities, technician areas and body shop all the while continuing to provide high-quality customer service with top-of-the-line amenities and equipment.

The 75,000-square-foot store features refreshed sales and leasing offices, express lube, customer waiting space, restrooms, Rent-A-Toyota operations, along with top-tier facilities for technical services and an expansive lot with new and pre-owned vehicles.

Vaughan has spent most of his career training and managing Vic Vaughan Toyota of Boerne alongside his father. At the beginning of 2022, Shawn Vaughan purchased the family legacy dealership to become the owner and dealer principal of Vic Vaughan Toyota of Boerne.

Vaughan said he plan to integrate Mike Calvert Toyota further into the community through nonprofit partnerships and charitable giving, such as the newly announced Noble Nurse project. 

“Houston has such a vibrant community and we’re excited to give back and really make it our home,” Vaughan said.

Group 1 dividend & stock repurchase

Similar to what fellow publicly traded dealership group Penske Automotive announced this week, Group 1 Automotive also revealed that its board of directors increased the company’s common stock repurchase authorization by $175 million to $250 million, and also declared an increase to the quarterly cash dividend.

The company also updated its year-to-date repurchase activity of 796,060 shares of common stock at an average price of $179.72 for a total of $143.1 million, which represents 4.6% of Group 1’s outstanding share count as of Jan. 1. 

Group 1 indicated in a news release that it expects that any repurchase of shares will be funded by cash from operations, and repurchased shares will be held in treasury.

And Group 1’s board of directors also declared a cash dividend of $0.37 per share for the first quarter.

The company highlighted the dividend represents an increase of 2.8%, or $0.01 per share, from the fourth quarter. The dividend will be payable on June 15 to stockholders of record as of June 1.

“We continue to demonstrate strong cash flow and a healthy balance sheet, which has enabled significant capital deployment in 2022.  said Earl Hesterberg, president and chief executive officer of Group 1, which has 202 dealerships located in the U.S. and U.K.

“We look to continue growth via acquisitions while also returning capital to our shareholders,” Hesterberg added.

Another Castle exec promoted

Also happening for the second time this week, Castle Automotive Group (CAG) promoted one of its executives.

In a move effective immediately, Jim McLaughlin has been promoted to vice president of fixed operations for CAG, which currently owns nine dealership locations with 14 franchises throughout Illinois and Northwest Indiana.

CAG highlighted that McLaughlin is well-known expert in his field with more than 22 years of robust automotive fixed operations experience with multiple OEMs. The group said his leadership skills range from developing and mentoring employees and streamlining processes to  identifying and executing revenue growth potential.

According to a news release, McLaughlin will be crucial as CAG continues to expand its dealership footprint by modernizing the service and parts departments.

“Our company has grown at a rapid speed over the last few years, and in order to stay competitive as well as deliver results and great customer experience, we have to grow our people internally first,” CAG chief executive officer Joe Castle said in the news release.

“It is no secret that fixed operations in most stores get the least amount of resources and infrastructure, yet it has tremendous potential for growth and impact on our store’s profitability,” Castle continued. “From the day that Jim started with me, I knew that he was young, hungry and had a vision for service and parts operations that fit mine.

“I am excited for this opportunity to support our stores’ fixed ops teams at a whole new level and for Jim and his directors team — Hayley Navarro and Dave Vargocko — to all continue to grow their careers with CAG,” Castle went on to say.

Previously, CAG chose Sean Seltzer to lead its marketing strategy as chief marketing officer and promoted David Ortiz to be vice president of variable operations.