Actor Mark Wahlberg, business partner buying Bobby Layman Chevrolet

from JD Malone The Columbus Dispatch July 19, 2018

‘All the Money in the World’ star Mark Wahlberg and a business partner are buying Bobby Layman Chevrolet in Columbus. The dealership will be renamed Wahlberg Chevrolet.

A Columbus car dealership has been bought by one of the stars of the 1997 movie “Boogie Nights.”

And it’s not Burt Reynolds.

Mark Wahlberg and business partner Jay Feldman, who is owner of a network of dealerships in Michigan, are buying Bobby Layman Chevrolet, which everyone in central Ohio knows is located at, “39 oh-oh West Broad.” The dealership will be renamed Wahlberg Chevrolet.

Feldman, who is also a partner with Wahlberg and his brothers in several Wahlburgers restaurants, including the one in Cleveland, believes the dealership will be like no other in the country.

“Mark brings a very unique opportunity,” Feldman said. “No dealership has a connection to such a high-profile Hollywood star. He has global fame. There is nowhere you can go that he isn’t known.”

Layman, who died in 2014 at the age of 82, was well known in central Ohio for his zany television commercials, which featured him bashing windshields and conversing with an actress who played his mother. Layman’s jingle, which starts with, “Bobby Layman, Bobby Layman,” in a sunny, almost questioning tone, is imprinted on anyone who grew up in central Ohio.

“There is a component to this that is bittersweet in that the Bobby Layman store was an integral presence in the Columbus community,” said Zach Doran, president of the Ohio Automobile Dealers Association, a trade group. “I think my little league team was sponsored by Bobby Layman. They are buying a lot of goodwill and community credibility.”

This will be Wahlberg’s first car dealership, but Feldman said he expects there will be more as they prove successful. Wahlberg will not be an absentee owner, Feldman said.

“He doesn’t lend his name to anything,” Feldman said. “He and I bought the store together. He will have a definite presence in the Columbus community on a regular basis.”

Wahlberg came to fame as a teenage pop music artist in the 1980s and moved into movies in the 1990s. He has starred in “The Departed,” “The Italian Job,” “Shooter,” the Transformers franchise and many other films. He also runs a production company and has executive producer credits on the HBO series “Entourage” and “Boardwalk Empire.”

Of his involvement in the auto-dealership business, Wahlberg said in a statement that, “I am continuously looking for ways to innovate my brand and engage in businesses I am passionate about. I love cars and the chance to work with ... Jay and represent an iconic brand like Chevrolet inspired me to get involved.”

That central Ohio attracted Feldman and Wahlberg says good things about both the Bobby Layman dealership and the region as a whole, Doran said.

“We’re going the right direction,” he said. “It speaks volumes when a large network like the Feldman group wants to do business in central Ohio. They could do business anywhere. We have a lot of competition and they will fit right in.”

Wahlberg and Feldman met five years ago while Wahlberg was filming a movie in Michigan. The two first partnered on Wahlburgers stores, but last year started looking for a car dealership to buy. A broker approached Feldman with the opportunity to buy Layman Chevrolet.

“It just made sense,” Feldman said.

Beyond a name change, the dealership will see some growth right away, Feldman said. They plan to fill a number of positions and hire additional staff. Feldman also has plans for a Wahlberg line special edition Chevys, only available at the Columbus dealership, which will be customized to Wahlberg’s specifications.

Doran thinks the Wahlberg name helps solve one of the industry’s biggest challenges: marketing. It’s the reason Bobby Layman become so ingrained in central Ohio memory with his commercials.

″(Wahlberg) certainly brings name recognition and our business is all about name recognition and establishing your brand,” Doran said. “What he brings to central Ohio is an established brand and there is value in that.”

The Wahlberg name means the dealership might also draw from a wider area than a normal car dealer.

“It probably expands our geography far beyond Columbus,” Feldman said. “I mean, people drive 3 hours for a Wahlburger hamburger.”