DP Fox To Pick Up The Go Group

November 12, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — DP Fox Ventures LLC has expanded its holdings in the local auto sales industry by recently signing a letter of intent to purchase the Go Dealer Group. The acquisition is the company's fifth in the local market since January 2000.

When the deal closes — and it's expected to do so within the next 90 days — DP Fox will offer a dozen automobile lines at six dealerships that employ 200 in metro Grand Rapids.

"In considering the acquisition of the Go Dealer Group, we were impressed with the integrity and commitment to excellence exhibited by the current ownership group and its employees," said Dan DeVos, president and CEO of DP Fox.

"Because our business philosophies mirror those of the Go Dealer Group, we expect a seamless management transition over the next couple of months," he added.

With its purchase of Go, DP Fox adds Acura, Audi, Mazda, Nissan, Porsche and Subaru to its product line. The firm already offers Buick, Hyundai, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Pontiac and Saab locally under the Fox Motors Group banner.

"DP Fox's high level of enthusiasm and professionalism in operating its current automobile dealerships has proven a successful combination, and we believe the Go lines will be an excellent complement to DP Fox's current transportation portfolio," said David Hooker, managing member of the Go Dealer Group.

DP Fox will retain the Go employees and management teams when it takes over the dealerships at 4430 28th St. SE and 4330 29th St. SE on Dec. 1.

"It's a great product line of imports and we're excited about where the lines are going," said DP Fox Executive Vice President David Green.

"The locations, being on 28th and 29th (streets) and near some of our other dealerships, were attractive, too," he added.

Green said the Go lines probably wouldn't be marketed under the Fox Motors name. Instead a new identity is likely to be created for those lines to avoid confusion with the current makes offered by Fox Motors.

Green also said Peter Cook would have an ownership interest in the new endeavor. Cook, a veteran in the local auto market, was an investor in the Go group.

"Because of his relationship with us and also because he is bullish on these dealerships, he will be coming in as a partner in the new enterprise," said Green.

DP Fox entered the local market when it purchased the Saab dealership nearly three years ago. The following year the firm, owned by Dan and Pamella DeVos, bought the Hyundai-Isuzu and Mitsubishi dealerships. Last July, DP Fox purchased Alpine Pontiac-Buick.

"We've had a very good streak of business. Obviously, things have slowed down in the last few months; you've seen reports of that. But 2002 overall was a great year," said Green.

A star in the Fox Motors line has been Hyundai. Although total auto sales were down last month across the country, Hyundai sales nationwide in October rose by 20 percent from the same month last year. Saab also has been a good seller for the firm.

"It's an incredible line. A good product with a good warranty," said Green of the Hyundai models.

"Overall, I think Saab has increased by 60 percent in our new building. So things are moving along pretty well."

DP Fox is a diversified investment and management firm with holdings in transportation, sports and entertainment, and commercial and residential real estate. Based in Grand Rapids, the firm also has an interest in the Georgian Group of Companies, which operates Georgian Pontiac-Buick-GMC in Ontario, Canada.

"I think it was in January of three years ago that we started by buying the Saab facility on Division and then selling 250 to 300 cars," said Green. "That has changed quite a bit in three years. It has been exciting for us and we have a real interest in the auto business."           

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