BRIDGEWATER, N.S. – The Steele Auto Group is closing in on the 30-store mark with the late February acquisition of Carroll General Motors and Bridgewater Honda.
The two-store deal with Scott Carroll, son of former Halifax Pontiac dealer John Carroll, pushes the Steele network to 26 stores and marks the addition of a third Honda and third GM store for the Halifax-based group.
“It’s nice when you are familiar with the brand as it makes the learning curve a little shorter, plus you’ve already seen what opportunities exist within the brand,” said Steele Auto Group president and COO Dave MacRitchie.
“We are excited about the powersports opportunity, too. There is some wonderful product and with Bridgewater serving a large, rural area, Honda’s ATVs and side by sides are good sellers along with their outboard motors.”
MacRitchie said they had been working on the deal with Carroll since last summer. Financial details were not disclosed. Bridgewater Honda will keep its names while the GM store is now called South Shore Chevrolet Buick GMC
This acquisition bolsters the group’s presence in Bridgewater, a town roughly 100 km east of Halifax, as Steely bought nearby Coleman’s Volkswagen in 2015.
“We like when we can have a few points in a market. There are some synergies and you can sometimes draw on another store’s experience on what is successful in terms of marketing in that area. Also, there are staff you can move around to take full advantage of their talents,” he said.
The Steele Auto Group has been busy on the acquisition front of late adding 12 rooftops inside of three years. And while management has diversified the portfolio provincially with stores now stretching throughout Nova Scotia and into New Brunswick and Newfoundland, the entire network is still based in Atlantic Canada.
MacRitchie confirmed they have looked at deals outside the Maritimes but see continued consolidation opportunities in their current markets.
“Atlantic Canada is a very steady market. It’s not like out west where there are booms and busts. For the most part, these communities might not have a great amount of growth in them, but they are steady with good sales,” he explained.
Plus, concentration of resources makes the management of the stores easier.
“If a standalone store loses a key manager, it almost becomes a crisis. For us, if we have a manager leave us, we can usually draw on the surrounding dealerships to fill the void.”
MacRitchie also hinted the group was looking at adding more stores this year.
“We’re looking at some opportunities. It’s early days for that, but I like to think we’ll have another acquisition inside 2017.”