“We have such a presence in western Canada, and we really want to be a national brand and a national organization as opposed to just a local brand,” said Aly Jiwani, vice-president of regional operations.
“And with Toronto being the biggest market in Canada, that was the next logical move to expand there.”
HOW DOOM BECAME BOOM
Ahmad said Dealer Solutions, which is also involved in the U.S. market, completed 40 transactions in 2020, the most in its history, with an additional 32 planned to close in 2021. In 2019, it closed 34 deals.
“Just like everyone else, we thought doom and gloom and lots of bleeding” at the beginning of the pandemic. “But the government stepped up and supported dealers quite well. By the third quarter, there was such pent-up demand and lack of product being produced that it really helped the dealer.”
Kristine Fair decided to sell Mike Fair Chevrolet-Buick-GMC-Cadillac in Smiths Falls, Ont., about 80 kilometres southwest of Ottawa, just as the pandemic struck.
Fair, who has 40 years in the business, said she was worried she would be unable to sell her only store but was assured otherwise by Wendy Durward, director of acquisitions management at Dealer Solutions.
“I said to Wendy, ‘OK, this is the worst possible time I could be selling,’ ” Fair said. “And she said, ‘No, there are those out there that have money, Kristine, that want to buy a dealership, and maybe this is a good time.’”
In December, Fair sold her store to the Butler Group in Pembroke, although she remains active in the dealership.
As they were before the pandemic, single-point operations remain under pressure to sell to larger dealership groups as new-vehicle sales margins shrink and marketing costs rise.
“To be brutally honest, to be a single-point dealer is becoming more and more cost-prohibitive when it comes to your marketing and know what way is the right way to market,” Fair said. “When you only have one store, you can’t spread that [cost] amongst three, four, five or six dealerships.”