The devastating economic impact of COVID-19 hasn’t dissuaded Ontario Dealer Terry Rafih from expanding his reach in the Greater Toronto Area.
Rafih, CEO of Rafih Auto Group, has purchased Alberta-based Go Auto’s Mississauga FCA dealership.
“You know what, I’m a risk taker by nature. These things don’t scare me,” Rafih told Automotive News Canada. “You have to look at the opportunities out there. The business is getting back to normal right now. The issue we have now is getting product.”
In April, Rafih was quoted in the Windsor Star saying the automotive industry will never be the same because of the COVID-19 outbreak. He said his company annually sells 25,000-30,000 cars, but sales at that point were off by 60-75 per cent. He said his company normally sells 100 cars per day in Ontario and at that time it was selling between 25-40 a day.
The deal closed on June 30 and the store began operations on July 1 under the name My Mississauga Chrysler. Terms of the purchase are not being disclosed. But, sources said the dealership buildings and land were appraised at a combined $12.8 million and that numerous offers were made in the $8 million-plus range.
Rafih also owns a Chrysler store in Brampton, just north of the Mississauga store as well a Honda dealership in Toronto.
Overall, the Rafih Group has 27 stores, most of them based in in Windsor, where the company is headquartered. In April, 2019, the company purchased three stores in Ohio, increasing its dealership total to eight in that state.
Go Auto owner Jared Priestner told Automotive News Canada last month that his company was selling two Greater Toronto Area stores because they were both losing money. When Ontario ordered all non-essential businesses to shut down on March 23 because of the COVID-19 outbreak, Go Auto shuttered the stores and put them up for sale.
“We bought two stores that were in dire straits,” Priestner said. “We [almost] doubled the sales volume at both of them, but they needed to be quadrupled. It just felt like when COVID hit we just had to prioritize which fights we wanted to fight and those two we felt would be better served with different owners. To be honest, we were probably a little bit cocky of our ability having done it so many times before. It was nothing crazy, we just couldn’t get them going.”
Go Auto owns two thriving Ford dealerships in the GTA and a Jaguar Land Rover store in London.
Rafih said he plans to use his existing resources in the GTA to rebuild the Mississauga dealership.
“We’re a very process-oriented company and we spend a lot of time on training, coaching, motivating, and I think with that and our presence in that market we’ll be able to utilize our synergies and so on and so forth,” Rafih said. “We’ll utilize the same accountant team [from the Brampton store]. Some of the management team will help. That’s what I mean by synergies.”