Mergers and Acquisitions

AutoCanada to acquire one of Edmonton’s Mercedes-Benz dealerships


Now that AutoCanada’s top leadership is finalized, the company is turning its attention back to expanding its dealership footprint.

This week, AutoCanada announced that it will be acquiring Mercedes-Benz Heritage Valley, which is one of only two Mercedes-Benz dealerships in Edmonton.

Mercedes-Benz Heritage Valley includes a 78,733 square foot facility, a 22-vehicle showroom, 23 service bays and nine detail bays.

“We are thrilled to acquire Mercedes-Benz Heritage Valley and to expand our luxury brand portfolio,” AutoCanada executive chairman Paul Antony said. “This acquisition is consistent with our strategy of selective and disciplined acquisitions, with a view to superior operational performance and diversification of our portfolio of dealerships.”

The company said the acquisition of Mercedes-Benz Heritage Valley remains subject to customary closing conditions, but AutoCanada expects to close by the end of September.

“With its stunning state-of-the-art facility, Mercedes-Benz Heritage Valley will be a flagship dealership for AutoCanada in our home of Edmonton,” AutoCanada president Michael Rawluk said. “We look forward to the opportunity to continue to build the Mercedes-Benz brand in the Edmonton market, and we are committed to operational excellence at Mercedes-Benz Heritage Valley. I have full confidence in Bobby Ammar, who will be appointed as dealer principal.”

The automaker cheered the acquisition announcement, too.

“Mercedes-Benz is pleased to partner again with AutoCanada,” Mercedes-Benz Canada president and chief executive officer Brian Fulton said. “We would like to thank Tom Wilson for taking Mercedes-Benz Heritage Valley to the stage that it is at today, and we look forward to continued growth and success for its new owners, AutoCanada and dealer principal Bobby Ammar, at Mercedes-Benz Heritage Valley.”

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US company acquires CUL Administration of Canada


Auto Financial Group (AFG) — a Houston-based company that provides an online, residual-based, walk-away vehicle financing product called AFG Balloon Lending, as well as vehicle leasing and vehicle remarketing to financial institutions across the United States — now has a significant presence in Canada.

According to a news release distributed on Thursday, AFG announced that it completed the acquisition of Credit Union Leasing Administration of Canada on Aug. 1.

CUL Administration of Canada provides a turnkey program to Canadian credit unions to enable them to participate in consumer and commercial vehicle leasing.

The announcement indicated Peter Birks, president of CUL Administration of Canada, will continue to run operations as the company integrates with Auto Financial Group.

Company leadership explained AFG’s growth into new markets demonstrates its commitment to financial institutions across the United States and Canada to meet the rising consumer demand for residual based financing. 

“We are excited to welcome CUL Administration of Canada to the AFG team and look forward to their contributions,” said Richard Epley, chief executive officer of Auto Financial Group.

“The acquisition is perfectly aligned with Auto Financial Group's mission to provide innovative, revenue producing programs to financial institutions and will position the company for continued growth and success in the future,” Epley continued.

Groupe Park Avenue takes over 3 Scotti Brossard dealerships

BROSSARD, Quebec - 

Groupe Park Avenue announced in early July that it has acquired three Brossard Jaguar/Land Rover, Volvo and Mitsubishi dealerships in Quebec from Groupe John Scotti.

This acquisition news follows the company’s recent purchase of the Leo Harley-Davidson dealership just about three months ago. 

Groupe Park Avenue shared that the Scotti family found the company to be a suitable buyer that can ensure the long-term viability of the three Brossard Jaguar/Land Rover, Volvo and Mitsubishi dealerships.

“Groupe John Scotti, and more specifically its Brossard dealerships, is a Quebec-based company that will be handed over to entrepreneurs firmly rooted in Quebec”, Groupe John Scotti president John Scotti said in a news release.

Furthermore, all 87 Scotti Brossard dealership employees can either remain or opt for a succession plan that includes social benefits and various recognition awards, according to Groupe Park Avenue.

With the addition of the three Scotti Brossard dealerships, Groupe Park Avenue now has a portfolio of 24 automobile dealerships and 1,150- employees.

Last year, the company said that it sold nearly 20,000 vehicles, and its annual sales amounted to about $850 million.

Pfaff acquires Mercedes-Benz store in Ontario


Pfaff Automotive Partners has acquired a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Kitchener, Ontario, the group announced early this month.

Now named Mercedes-Benz Kitchener-Waterloo, Pfaff’s newly purchased facility spans 41,000 square-feet and was last owned by Victoria Star Motors, which first launched operations at the location in 1994.

“When I was getting my start in the automotive industry, I worked with the Mercedes-Benz brand from 1982 to 1985,” Pfaff Automotive Partners president and chief executive officer Chris Pfaff said in a news release. “What I learned about premium products and a premium customer experience has stuck with me, and that’s just one reason I’m so excited to be involved with the brand once again.”

Located at 125 Centennial Road, Mercedes-Benz Kitchener-Waterloo is an AMG Performance Center, a Mercedes-Benz van retailer and a smart retailer, according to Pfaff Automotive.

The group also said that the dealership provides both retail and commercial customers a vast selection of vehicle options that fit a variety of price ranges.

“Mercedes-Benz Canada is extremely pleased to welcome Chris Pfaff to our family of retailers,” said Brian Fulton, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Canada. “Chris has successfully represented high luxury automotive brands across the country for many decades. With the support of a highly qualified team already in place, I am very confident that the significant level of commitment and experience that Chris brings to Mercedes-Benz Kitchener-Waterloo will ensure its sustained growth and continued success.”

“I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the Alkiers for their 25 excellent years of dedicated service at Victoria Star Motors,” said Fulton.

Go Auto acquires Toyota location, appoints GM from top VW dealership


Go Auto has purchased the Toyota on the Trail store that’s located close to the dealership network’s nearby Drayton Valley Toyota location.

The company announced Wednesday that it has begun operations at Toyota on the Trail with new general manager Shane Sutherland, who most recently served as GM at Edmonton's Norden Volkswagen store. The dealership is the top Volkswagen store in Western Canada and the No. 2 store nationwide, according to Go Auto.

“Toyota on the Trail customers are going to love Shane Sutherland,” Go Auto president Jason Smith said in a news release. “He set all-time highs for customer satisfaction at Norden Volkswagen, and he's excited to bring that same customer-first approach to the Toyota brand.

“Despite his success he's remained a humble and fun-loving guy, and his hallmark has always been clean and clear communication. This is exactly what customers expert from their dealerships today," Smith added. 

“We couldn't be more excited to continue our partnership with Toyota in a central, convenient Edmonton location,” added Smith. “Toyota is already a world-class brand with class-leading vehicles.

“For us to be able to add the Go Auto advantage to that — our exclusive benefits, our 24/7 customer service, our communication tools — is tremendously exciting, both for us, and, we hope, for the Edmonton car buyer.”

At Toyota on the Trail, Go Auto said that Toyota buyers can now take advantage of several exclusive benefits.

Along with 10 percent off parts and service purchases and up to $500 in referral bonuses, Go Auto offers customers free service loaners, a 30-day exchange privilege, as well as in-house insurance and finance options, according to the dealership network.

iA Financial Group closes DAC purchase


 iA Financial Group has wrapped up its purchase of Dealers Assurance Company and Southwest Reinsure Inc., a company collectively known as DAC.

The deal to purchase the privately owned vehicle service contract company was first announced on Sept. 21.

DAC builds and distributes extended warranties thorough a U.S. auto dealer network.  iA Financial, which is one of Canada’s largest insurance and wealth management companies, said in a news release that the scale of its own vehicle warranty business can be doubled through the acquisition of DAC.

The deal also broadens its U.S. footprint.

When the purchase was first announced in September, iA Financial Group president and chief executive officer Yvon Charest said in a news release: “Having built a solid presence in personal insurance in the U.S. and after close consideration of strategic opportunities to enlarge our U.S. footprint, we have chosen to make our next move in the automobile warranty market.

“This is a business where we have built tremendous know-how and experience over the last 20 years in Canada, which we now want to leverage in the larger U.S. market," Charest added. 

Mike Stickney, president of iA American said, “The U.S. market for extended warranties is about $15 billion or ten times that of Canada. “It is very fragmented with significant opportunity for growth and consolidation.

“With our solid track record in the extended warranty business in Canada together with the established presence of DAC in the U.S., we look forward to this new chapter in our U.S. expansion with great anticipation.” 

Dilawri Group adds 4th BMW dealership

NEWMARKET, Ontario - 

Dilawri Group of Companies recently announced it has added one of 64 BMW Newmarket dealerships to its portfolio.

The BMW Newmarket location, which represents the fourth BMW dealership for the group, was recently renovated to expand both the showroom and service department, according to Dilawri.

“With the addition of BMW Newmarket, we are proud to introduce Dilawri’s customer-centric focus to Newmarket and surrounding area,” group co-principal director Kap Dilawri said in a news release. “We are extremely pleased to further strengthen our partnership with BMW Canada, and are proud to represent this world-class brand in Newmarket.”

Additionally, BMW Newmarket customers can now take part in the Dilawri Rewards program, which extends savings on service, parts, accessories and future vehicle purchases to repeat customers.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to assist customers in Newmarket and the surrounding area with their luxury vehicle sales and service needs, and we look forward to becoming an integral part of the local community,” added BMW Newmarket general manager Jamie MacArthur.

AutoCanada to acquire 1st Mazda dealership


AutoCanada recently announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire 90 percent of the issued and outstanding shares of the Planete Mazda dealership, which has operated for nearly 30 years in the greater Montreal region on the north shore in Mirabel.

The new purchase will be the first Mazda dealership for AutoCanada, and it’s fourth in the greater Montreal region.

Following customary closing conditions and approvals, the transaction is expected to close within 30 days, according to the company.

"This is a very important acquisition for AutoCanada," group president and chief executive officer Steven Landry said in a news release announcing the acquisition. "The Loiselle family has established a strong presence in the area, and we look forward to partnering with Sylvain Loiselle and the entire Planete Mazda team to accelerate their growth.

“The acquisition marks the addition of a new brand to our portfolio and the start of our relationship with Mazda Canada. It advances our strategy of adding new brands in metropolitan areas to expand and diversify our dealer network and drive sustainable long-term growth," Landry explained.

AutoCanada said as part of the transaction it will lease the newly acquired dealership’s 35,000-square-foot facility, 18 car showroom and 22 service bays.

"Mazda is pleased to welcome AutoCanada to our group of dealers," said Dave Klan, Mazda Canada senior director of sales, marketing and regional operations. "It is acquiring a well-performing dealership in a key market for us. The Loiselle's have built a wonderful facility and have been an important part of the Mazda family in Canada for years. With Sylvain Loiselle remaining as dealer principal, as well as the addition of a talented team at AutoCanada, we see great things ahead for Mazda with this change in ownership."

Groupe Park Avenue acquires 2nd Mercedes-Benz franchise


Mercedes-Benz Canada recently announced that Groupe Park Avenue automobile consortium acquired Mercedes-Benz de Quebec, the dealer group’s second Mercedes-Benz franchise purchase.

Groupe Park Avenue acquired its Silver Star Montreal dealership just last year.

The group purchased Mercedes-Benz de Quebec from Chatel Automobiles Ltee, which operated the dealership for almost six decades.

Maurice Parent, owner of Chatel Automobiles Ltee, moved the dealership to its current location in 1974.

"We are fortunate to be taking on a dealership with a proven track record — Maurice and his team deserve our recognition and our gratitude. They are starting us off on the strongest possible footing as we undertake further expansion in a competitive market," Groupe Park Avenue president and chief executive officer Norman Hebert said in a news release.

"A well-respected presence in the community, a solid team in place and the brand's unprecedented successes in this market made acquiring Mercedes-Benz de Quebec a sound business decision for Groupe Park Avenue."

The Mercedes-Benz dealer recognition program has recognized Parent as a "Star Dealer" 15 times. Parent began selling the Mercedes-Benz brand in the mid-1960s, according to Mercedes-Benz Canada.

"Mercedes-Benz Canada welcomed Norman Hebert to the dealer network last year, when Groupe Park Avenue acquired Silver Star Montreal. Since then, the dealership's success is a testament to the skill and expertise of Norman and his team," Mercedes-Benz Canada president and chief executive officer Brian Fulton said in the release.

"I'd also like to take a moment to acknowledge the important legacy Maurice Parent has built over the past sixty years. His hard work and unwavering dedication to the brand have been truly remarkable. He has been a real credit to this organization, a true pioneer, and Mercedes-Benz Canada's other dealers join me in wishing him all the best," he said.

There will be no significant staff changes at Mercedes-Benz de Quebec, according to Mercedes-Benz Canada.

Tommy Caron, the dealership’s general manager, will continue to manage the dealership.

Apex Inspection Solutions to be acquired by TÜV Nord Group


On Friday, Apex Inspection Solutions announced it is being acquired by Hanover, Germany-based TÜV Nord Group. Officials said in a news release to AuSM Canada that the partnership is an ideal fit, as both businesses align their initiatives toward being responsive to ever-changing economic conditions with a constant focus on providing the best service on the market. 

By partnering with TÜV Nord, Apex highlighted that it will continue to provide customers with top-tier vehicle inspections while maintaining and building upon the high level of customer service and regarded reputation the company has achieved over the past eight years.

Apex added that the additional resources that TÜV Nord will provide, coupled with the detailed inspection reporting methodology practiced by both companies, will result in a win-win scenario for both companies, Apex’s legions of loyal customers, and an anticipated flood of new ones as well.

“We plan to pour additional resources into the market,” said Craig Martin, director of Canadian operations and managing partner at Apex Inspection Solutions.

Martin, who has been with Apex since the company was founded in 2009, will continue to occupy his current role moving forward. His area of responsibility is set to increase, however, and Martin emphasized that he is prepared for the challenges that might be ahead.

“With the support from TÜV Nord, we will be rapidly expanding our field network and client base,” Martin said. “We will also be adding on additional services for OEMs, captives and consigners as well and with the reputation for all that TÜV Nord Group has achieved not only in Europe, but around the globe. It puts us in a very good position to capitalize on current growth opportunities along with some new exciting segments yet to be seen in our business. 

“We are truly excited to be a part of the TÜV family and look forward to the future with them,” Martin went on to say.

Ralph Dollenberg, senior vice president and head of international business development manager for TÜV Mobility, a division of TÜV Nord Group, explained how the acquisition developed.

“TÜV Nord has had Apex Inspection Solutions on its radar for some time now,” Dollenberg said. “The company has managed to grow its customer base over the years without sacrificing the high level of customer service and meticulous documentation required in the auto inspection business. That’s not easy in today’s ultra-competitive business environment.

“It’s this passion for doing things right AND doing things the right way that makes Apex Inspection Solutions a perfect partner for TÜV Nord Group. We’re hoping to continue, hand-in-hand, down the road to future success,” he continued.

More details about Apex Inspection Solutions offers, including services at lease end, collision appraisals, certified pre-owned inspections and hail damage estimation can be found at

Apex & partner to boost online auction activities

In other company news, Apex Inspection Solutions also finalized a new partnership with, a Laval-based online vehicle auction service currently expanding into Ontario after achieving great success in the province of Quebec.

“In our efforts to better serve our clients we are always looking for ways to improve our product offering and continuously evolve,” TradeHelper president and chief executive officer Karl Tremblay said. “Our partnership with Apex Inspection Solutions is part of that evolution.

“Their detailed inspection reports and reporting methodologies are well-known in the industry and this partnership will allow us the opportunity to offer a standardized approach to our clients' capture and inspection needs,” Tremblay continued.

Both companies highlighted that having a vehicle properly inspected by a company like Apex Inspection Solutions before sealing the deal not only eases the concerns of potential buyers, there’s a “ripple effect” in that more buyers will be attracted to online vehicle auctions such as those featured at TradeHelper.

In a nutshell, this partnership is a win-win-win, with the third “winners” being online vehicle buyers and sellers.

“To say that e-commerce has changed the second-hand vehicle buying experience for the better is a vast understatement but as with all technological breakthroughs, there are pros and cons,” Martin said. “Sure, online buying and selling couldn’t be more convenient, but there’s still a lingering sense of discomfort with the process.

“Many customers feel a lack of transparency when you’re not dealing face-to-face with the buyer and the vehicle is literally out of reach. That’s where Apex comes in,” he continued. “Our team of professional and skilled inspectors collectively offer our customers over 100 years of vehicle estimating and inspection experience. We’ve built our reputation on removing the uncertainty from these types of transactions.”

Martin insisted that sellers will also benefit from Apex Inspection Solutions’ proven expertise. A detailed inspection report from Apex can bolster the seller should the buyer find fault with their purchase, either at the time of transaction or shortly thereafter.

“Honest sellers don’t need (and won’t get) that kind of hassle; those less trustworthy will find themselves squeezed out of the market when they can neither support nor back up their claims to a vehicle’s integrity,” Apex said.

TradeHelper’s point-man for the company’s Ontario growth strategy is Simon Laurin, director of sales for Ontario.

“At, we are dedicated to providing our clients with an exceptional level of customer service,” Laurin said. “So naturally we would look for a partner who is dedicated to providing the same; Apex is that partner.”

Laurin added that he and Martin have worked together in the past and both are looking forward to renewing their association.

“I’m very excited to once again be working with Craig and his team at Apex Inspections Solutions,” Laurin said. “Apart from the fact that this partnership will bring a fair and standardized approach to the vehicle capture process on our platform, it will also allow us to provide our clients with an impartial and comprehensive post-sale inspection option for Ontario and Quebec.”