Longtime Macon family dealership buys another dealership started nearly 100 years ago

By Linda S. Morris  The Telegraph  August 14, 2018


A family owned dealership that’s been in Macon for nearly 100 years has been bought by another family owned automotive group that’s been in the city almost 50 years.

On Tuesday, the Butler Automotive Group, which launched in 1970, purchased Youmans Chevrolet, which was founded in 1930. The sale gives the Butler group 14 stores and its first Chevrolet dealership since the family came to Macon.

“We are certainly excited about adding Chevrolet into our company,” said Marsh Butler Jr., who serves as co-president with his brother Morris Butler. “It certainly fills a void for us. It’s great to have a domestic brand here in Macon.”

The company, whose brands include Toyota, Acura, BMW, Honda, Lexus and Audi, also has a couple of Ford stores and Chrysler Dodge Jeep stores, but they are outside the Middle Georgia area. It bought the Nissan dealership here in 2014.

Even though the Butler family bought its first dealership in 1970 when Milton Butler and his son, Marshall Butler Sr., bought the Macon Toyota franchise, Milton Butler had actually started selling cars 37 years earlier at his Alma Chevrolet dealership. He sold that in 1966.

Marsh Butler Jr. and Morris Butler joined the auto group in the 1990s and became the third generation of Butlers in the business. Other family members also work in the company.

“My father has always wanted to get back into the Chevrolet business. He’s talked about that for years,” Marsh Butler Jr. said. “So he’s very, very excited about this.”

George Youmans Jr., owner of Youmans Chevrolet, said he “kind of hand picked the Butlers because ... to be able to pass it to another family with a strong automotive history in Macon, I know they are going to take care of my people and they’re also going to take care of my customers, too.”

The Youmans’ car business history goes back to the 1930s when George Youmans’ great-grandfather, R.C. Dunlap, bought Bibb Chevrolet, and eventually George Youmans Jr. bought it from his father in 2001.

The business moved from its downtown location in 1993 to its current facility at 2020 Riverside Drive.

Youmans said he decided to sell based on the best business decision for him and his family.

“I just decided if I didn’t want to do it another 15 years, with all the uncertainty and changes coming in the car business ... (referring to things like self-driving cars and Uber) that it was probably the right time to figure out something else to do,” he said.

His immediate plans? He leaves this week for a vacation out West then next month he’s going to hike the Georgia portion of the Appalachian Trial.

“I’m probably going to do what I want to do for the rest of year,” he said. “And then next year decide what I really want to do.”

Butler said the company has plans to make some small renovations to the facility, but it will remain in the same location. And that’s not all that will stay the same.

“Our plan is to retain Youmans’ employees,” he said. The 57 Youmans workers will join Butler, which has about 700 employees, he said.

“I have a lot of respect for George and his father and for the way they ran the business, and I think our family shares the same values when it comes to taking car of customers,” Butler said. “Our goal, obviously, we want to grow the business ... and get it to the next level.”

One change that’s coming is to open the service department on Saturdays beginning Sept. 8.

Youmans said Tuesday that the reality of sale hasn’t really sunk in yet, but that he felt good about his decision.

“When we walked out of the lawyers office (Monday) and they were happy and I was happy, so it made for a really, nice friendly transaction,” he said.