Parks Automotive buys 2 Stellantis dealerships with Franchise Equity Partners

Parks Automotive Group, bolstered by an undisclosed investment from Franchise Equity Partners, has expanded its North Carolina operations, company President Adam Parks said.

Jack and Robin Salzman on Jan. 18 sold Lake Norman Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in Cornelius and Gastonia Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram, both near Charlotte, to growing Parks Automotive so they could pursue other interests in business and philanthropy. The dealership names will remain.

The deal marks Franchise Equity Partners’ second investment into a dealership group, Co-Managing Partner Scott Romanoff told Automotive News. In October, the private investment firm invested $70 million into Georgica Auto Holdings.

The New York firm, launched by Romanoff and Michael Esposito in November 2021, received $1 billion in funding from HPS Investment Partners to invest in five sectors, including $400 million earmarked for automotive dealerships. Romanoff said he could not disclose how much of the remaining $330 million was used in the Parks deal. He and Parks said Franchise Equity Partners has a minority stake in the acquired stores.

“Over the past year, our watch words are ‘minority,’ ‘passive’ and ‘permanent,’ where we leave the day-to-day operations and control of the dealership in the hands of the operator,” Romanoff said. “This deal is consistent with that.”

Romanoff said Franchise Equity Partners, whose leadership team includes longtime auto executive Mark LaNeve, first had conversations with industry professionals about potentially working together at last year’s AutoTeam America buy-sell summit.

Alan Haig, president of Haig Partners, the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., buy-sell firm that represented the Salzmans in the transaction, discussed that meeting during last week’s AutoTeam America’s buy-sell summit at the NADA Show in Dallas. Haig credited the event with helping foster the type of relationships that can lead to similar business partnerships.

Romanoff said the talks at the prior summit eventually led to a meeting with the Parks family.

“They’re the exact type of operators that we want to partner with: family-owned, multigenerational businesses,” Romanoff said.

Parks is a 2012 Automotive News 40 Under 40 honoree, and Jack Salzman won the Time Dealer of the Year award in 2018.

Haig Partners described the Lake Norman store as high-performing among Stellantis dealerships. It will relocate to a new 55,000-square-foot facility.

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