Steele Auto Group of Canada buys Texas dealership

By Greg Layson Automotive News February 25. 2020

Steele Auto Group of Nova Scotia is expanding into Texas with ambitions of creating “some critical mass” in the Lone Star State.

The dealership group said on Tuesday it has purchased Luling Chevrolet-Buick-GMC in Luling, Texas, about 62 miles east of San Antonio. The dealership is the group’s first U.S. store. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We have been planning to establish a foothold in the Austin-San Antonio area and are excited to have a presence here. This is a great, well-run dealership,” Steele Auto Group CEO Rob Steele said in a statement.

Steele bought the dealership from longtime owner Carroll Barron, who didn’t immediately say why he chose to sell the store.

Luling is a small city of 5,400 people, but the dealership serves customers from the greater San Antonio-Austin area.

Steele Auto Group President Kim Day said the dealership is “well established” and that Luling General Manager PJ McCafferty will continue in the role.

“I am thrilled to continue on as general manager of the dealership moving forward,” he said in the same statement. “I am confident that being part of a larger dealer group will bring new benefits to our customers and employees.”

Steele Auto Group has 40 dealerships selling 27 brands and employs more than 2,200 people in Canada.

“While this is our first venture into the U.S., our plan is to continue to seek out opportunities in the Austin-San Antonio area in the near term,” Rob Steele said. “We would like to create some critical mass in Texas and are open to opportunities in the U.S. that fit our acquisition criteria.”

Steele Auto Group officials weren’t immediately available for comment.

In 2019, Steele Auto Group became the first Canadian GM dealership to be awarded the GM Canada Innovation award. Day said the group plans to bring that creativity and innovation to Texas.

“There are some innovative solutions that we plan to deliver here to enhance the customer buying experience. As an example, we would intend to roll out real-time video updates from service technicians while customers’ vehicles are being repaired,” Day said. “We pride ourselves on creating new and innovative ways to enhance the experience for our customers; it’s a benefit of being part of a larger network and group.

“This will also create new opportunities for the existing Luling team members.”

Luling Chevrolet-Buick-GMC employs about 15 people, according to the dealership’s website.

Steele is the second Canadian dealer group in less than eight months to expand into Texas. Calgary-based dealership group Foundation Automotive Corp. in late June 2019 purchased three Texas dealerships — and two in North Dakota — in what it called at the time “just the beginning of our 2019 growth.”