Mergers and Acquisitions

Pfaff acquires Mercedes-Benz store in Ontario

TORONTO - 

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

EDMONTON - 

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

QUEBEC CITY  - 

 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

EDMONTON - 

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

TORONTO - 

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

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario - 

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 www.apexinspections.ca.

Apex & TradeHelper.ca partner to boost online auction activities

In other company news, Apex Inspection Solutions also finalized a new partnership with TradeHelper.ca, 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 TradeHelper.ca, 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.”

Pfaff adds BMW, MINI stores to growing group

TORONTO - 

Pfaff Automotive Partners has added both Town + Country BMW and MINI Markham to its growing group of dealerships, the group announced on Wednesday.

“We're excited today to welcome Town & Country BMW and MINI Markham into our family,” Pfaff Automotive Partners president and chief executive officer Christopher Pfaff said in a news rlease. “We share many of the same values, including a vision for continuous growth and improvement, and a connection to the communities where we live and work.”

The addition of the two stores not only expands Pfaff’s portfolio to include the BMW i and MINI lineups but also gives the group a solid BMW presence throughout the Greater Toronto Area, according to the group.

“Town + Country will provide BMW fans access to two new and pre-owned vehicle inventories, as well as exceptional Pfaff customer service in both the west and east GTA — giving them a new level of convenience and choice. The addition of MINI to our brand offering provides Pfaff customers with another passionate, exciting brand to choose from,” Pfaff said.

Town + Country BMW has a 28-year history with the BMW brand. Founded in 1989, the store moved to its current location in Markham in 2002 and it recently expanded to double the size of its service department.

Additionally, over 200 new associates from Town + Country BMW and MINI Markham have joined the growing Pfaff group.

AutoCanada buys Mercedes store, expands luxury portfolio

EDMONTON, Alberta - 

AutoCanada announced that it is set to purchase all of the issued and outstanding shares of Mercedes-Benz Rive-Sud, which has been open in the greater Montreal region for almost to 50 years.

"We are honored to acquire this dealership from the Leclair family and thrilled to extend our offering in the greater Montreal communities," Steven Landry, president and chief executive officer of AutoCanada, said in a press release. "Mercedes-Benz Rive-Sud is a great facility located in an ideal location. Mercedes-Benz's innovative brand, known for its exciting vehicles, offers us a compelling growth opportunity that will enhance our brand mix."

AutoCanada's aquasition of Mercedes-Benz Rive-Sud’s brings its dealership count to a total of 57.

“The acquisition is consistent with AutoCanada's strategy of adding new brands in metropolitan areas to further expand our dealer network and drive growth potential across major Canadian markets,” the group said.

AutoCanada also announced that it has plans to lease the dealership lands as part of the transaction. The 112,643-square-foot facility along with a 50-car showroom, and 28 service bays.

One service bay holds one of the only three Mercedes-Benz approved collision centers in Quebec.

The dealership retailed 1,270 new and used vehicles last year.

"Mercedes-Benz is pleased to have AutoCanada join our family of retailers," Brian Fulton, president and chief executive officer of Mercedes-Benz Canada said. "The Leclair Group has done a tremendous job of revitalizing our brand in a stunning state-of-the-art facility in Greenfield Park and its surroundings.  With a strong and well-seasoned team in place, I am confident that the new owners, AutoCanada and Dealer Principal Anthony Taddeo, will continue to experience sustained success and growth at Mercedes-Benz Rive-Sud."

AutoCanada's transaction is under customary closing conditions and approvals. The deal is expected to close within 30 days.

OpenRoad ventures into US with luxury store acquisition

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - 

OpenRoad Auto Group — one of the province’s largest dealership groups with more than 900 associates representing 15 brands at 19 full-service dealerships — is expanding once again. But this time, it’s in the United States.

On Friday, OpenRoad announced the acquisition of an established luxury dealership in Bellevue, Wash., that represents some of the most iconic brands in the world — Bentley, Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

“This is an incredible opportunity to grow our luxury lineup and expand our dealership group by entering into a new, world-class market that’s only about a three-hour drive from Vancouver — or less if you’re driving a Lamborghini,” said Christian Chia, president and chief executive officer of OpenRoad Auto Group.

“We look forward to working with general manager Mark Maakestad and getting into the spirit of the Seattle Seahawks with the rest of his team,” Chia continued.

The acquisition of Bentley, Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Bellevue was completed on Jan. 19 and will be OpenRoad’s first foray into the U.S. market. The addition of the Bellevue dealership follows OpenRoad's corporate strategy to expand existing relationships in key markets. 

OpenRoad already owns and operates a Rolls-Royce dealership in Vancouver, while Bentley and Lamborghini are part of the VW Group of companies along with Audi and Porsche — three brands OpenRoad has proven to be successful with in Burnaby and Langley, British Columbia.

As demand for luxury and ultra-luxury brands continues to grow, so will production of exclusive new Bentley, Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce models.

In 2018, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is slated to launch its flagship, Phantom Sedan and soon after an SUV code-named Cullinan. Lamborghini, the iconic Sant’Agata-based exotic car brand known for their V12 power plants and the iconic Miura sports coupe will continue to produce some of the best super cars in the world. Bentley Motors will mark its centennial anniversary in 2019 along with the company’s celebrated history as the ultimate British luxury automobile icon.

OpenRoad’s newest dealership is located in an urban center just 16 kilometers outside of Seattle in a region that’s home to many of the world’s leading companies, including Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Paccar, Costco and Amazon.  

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