Asbury Acquires Oldest Family-Owned Transportation Co. in the U.S.

Asbury Acquires Oldest Family-Owned Transportation Co. in the U.S.

January 16, 2017 — The Asbury Automotive Group is buying Hare Chevrolet and its affiliated companies — a collision center, an Isuzu dealership and a truck center.

Hare Chevrolet, which sits a few miles north of Indianapolis in the town of Noblesville on State Road 37, is unique because it is the oldest family-owned transportation company in the U.S. according to its owners.

The deal, which is slated to close later this month, will be Asbury’s first acquisition since June 2015 when it purchased Mike Davidson Ford in Florida.

Sisters Courtney Cole (Left) & Monica Peck turned Hare into a top 25 store for Chevrolet.
Sisters Courtney Cole (Left) & Monica Peck turned Hare into a top 25 store for Chevrolet.

Hare Chevrolet co-owner Courtney Cox Cole confirmed the pending sale which was first reported by the Indianapolis Business Journal last week.

Asbury executives alluded to the acquisition during its 2016 third quarter earnings call saying the group would use the proceeds from the sale of its four Little Rock, AR stores to the McLarty Automotive Group to finance the purchase of a smaller, yet more profitable, dealership.

The acquisition is the latest in a trend that has seen approximately 1,400 of the country’s 18,000 dealerships change hands since January 2013, according to TBR data. (To read all of TBR’s coverage of dealership buy-sells, click Here.)

Hare is one of the top Chevrolet dealerships in the country and has a rich history having survived the Civil War, two world wars, the Great Depression and too many recessions to count, including the most recent one in which General Motors forced the closing of hundreds of its dealers.

It began as a wagon-building shop in 1847 and has been in the same family for six generations. W. Hare &

Wesley Hare began building wagons & buggies in 1847.
Wesley Hare began building wagons & buggies in 1847.

Sons, Inc. added automobiles to its portfolio in 1912 when it began selling Cadillacs, Hupmobiles, Overlands, and Studebakers. It added the Chevrolet franchise in 1921.

Sisters Monica Peck and Courtney Cole purchased a majority interest from their parents David and Jacqueline (Hare) Cox in January 2008, just months before the auto industry was derailed by the bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler. Nevertheless, the sisters took the dealership from 140 sales a month to more than 500 making it one of Chevrolet’s top 25 dealerships in the country.

Asbury is keeping all of Hare’s 250 employees along with retaining the dealership name. Cole and Peck have also signed a five-year deal to continue the Sisters of Savings radio ads they began a few years ago.

Despite their success, there have been struggles. A fire a few months ago caused more than $1 million in damage to their truck center.

The toughest battle, though, has been Cole’s struggle with cancer since 2014 when she was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer at age 42, j just a couple of months after running a marathon. Last year, the cancer spread to her bones while hitting stage 4.

Cole, who has never smoked, along with her sister were athletic standouts in Indiana. Peck was named to Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame’s Silver Anniversary team this year; while Cole was inducted into the state’s basketball Hall of Fame in 2014 following a standout high school and college career.

NOTE: The photos are courtesy of the Hare collection. 

 

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