January 9, 2018 — The Asbury Automotive Group acquired Terry Lee Honda in Avon, IN this week and renamed it Hare Honda. The acquisition follows Asbury’s purchase of Hare Chevrolet in Noblesville, IN in 2017.
The two acquisitions indicate Asbury, the country’s seventh largest dealer group with more than $6.5 billion in annual revenue and nearly 100 franchises, may be looking to build a platform of dealerships in the Indianapolis market using the Hare brand.
Hare began as a wagon-building shop in 1847 and had been in the same family for six generations, making it the longest continually owned transportation company in the U.S. W. Hare &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.
Terry Lee opened the Honda store in 2008. Since then, the store has won the Honda President’s Award multiple years, has been on the Top 100 Automotive News Best Dealerships to Work For list, and received the Indianapolis Star Top Workplaces Award as one of the top 75 employers in the state six consecutive years.
Lee will focus on his Hyundai and Genesis franchises along with Terry Lee Crossing, his 72-acre real estate development north of Indianapolis.
Asbury’s move also highlights a growing trend of large dealer groups outside of the Midwest starting to focus their acquisition efforts there. The region already has some of the industry’s largest groups headquartered there — Suburban Automotive, Serra Automotive, Jeff Wyler, Napleton and Victory all in the top 31 on the Ward’s Auto Dealer Top 100 Megadealer ranking last year.
But acquisitions in the last year in the Midwest by Lithia Motors, Asbury Automotive, RFJ Auto Partners and GPB Capital reveal an area ripe for buy-sell activity.
In its Annual Market Profile published last summer, The Presidio Group credits attractive real estate prices, traditionally smaller stores and an aging dealer principal demographic are fueling the trend. Groups are beginning to realize the Midwest offers opportunities for a higher return on invested capital. (Presidio advised Terry Lee on his recent sale and also advised the Kenny Ross group on its sale to GPB Capital last summer).