April 11, 2016 — The Holman Automotive Group will announce tomorrow morning that it is acquiring Kuni Automotive, The Banks Report has learned. The acquisition brings together two storied automotive companies and creates one of the country’s largest privately held dealer groups with 33 dealerships located in eight states generating more than $3 billion in annual revenue.
Once completed, it will be the industry’s biggest dealership buy-sell since Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway acquired the Van Tuyl Group in March 2015. The combined group will have stores in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado and Kansas.
Despite the deal’s size, it is not about becoming bigger, says Holman’s Chairman of the Board Melinda K. Holman, in a video that announced the acquisition to employees of both groups earlier today. “It is about two great companies coming together and making each other better.” As part of the transaction, the Kuni brand, which was established in 1970, will continue and be called “Kuni Automotive, a Holman Enterprise.”
Long-time friends, Greg Goodwin and Bill Cariss began serious discussions in November culminating in the agreement’s signing on March 16. For Kuni CEO Greg Goodwin, finding a partner who shares Kuni’s values while creating a company that is not only bigger, but better, was important.
“We are creating a company that is greater than the sum of its parts,” he says. “It’s easy to get lost in the ‘bigness’ of this transaction, but ‘big’ doesn’t serve a purpose if it doesn’t improve the company.”
Holman CEO Carl Ortell says the acquisition positions Holman to “remain a leader in the auto industry as it continues to evolve. We’re creating a company with a global footprint that will allow our people to explore new career opportunities within the larger organization.”
A key component of the deal is the guaranteed long term future of the Wayne D. Kuni and Joan E. Kuni Foundation, a charitable foundation that is also the majority shareholder in Kuni Automotive. The foundation was founded in November 2005 by Wayne and Joan Kuni to support cancer research and enhance the lives of developmentally disabled adults. More than half of the proceeds from the acquisition will go to the foundation. Additionally, Holman will join the foundation’s board.
“Our two companies share a deep culture of charity and community service,” says Holman in a press release that will be available later today. “Knowing that more than half of the proceeds will go to the Kuni Foundation and serve people in need for decades to come is a wonderful byproduct of this transaction.”
Both companies have grown significantly in recent years. Kuni, under Goodwin’s leadership, has doubled in both number of dealerships and revenue, with 1,450 employees in 15 dealerships — many of them luxury stores.
Holman, headquartered in Maple Shade, NJ, was founded in 1924, and today is a global company with 4,800 employees. The group acquired Audi of Willow Grove outside of Philadelphia and Princeton BMW/MINI last year. Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Bill Cariss says the group will continue to identify future investment opportunities for all of Holman’s business segments. Those companies will “have similar values and work ethics that blend well with the Holman culture,” he says.
There are no plans to become a public company, says Holman. “Plan A is to remain a family-owned company for generations to come,” she says. “And there is no Plan B.”