The name (and expertise) of the DSMA agency is regularly circulated throughout North America when it comes to the sale of automobile dealerships. But the recent transaction involving Mack Volvo Group’s eight heavy-duty truck dealerships demonstrates that the DSMA touch can make a difference in any automotive segment.
Last October, Mack Volvo Group became the property of St-Henri Group. Specializing in heavy-duty truck trailers, the Montreal-based company acquired the eight Mack Volvo Group dealerships located in Dorval, Laval, Les Coteaux, Saint-Hyacinthe, Drummondville, Cowansville, Boucherville and Saint-Rémi.
A historic transaction
“This is the largest transaction involving heavy-duty truck dealerships piloted by DSMA team members since our company was founded in 2012. And we will continue to penetrate this market moving forward,” says DSMA Associate Lev Kowalsky proudly.
Passionate about the truck industry, Lev Kowalsky has orchestrated the process of this mega deal from its very beginnings. A “conductor” who says he is very impressed by the work of his North American team members, and particularly those of the Quebec section, who made it possible to conclude this historic agreement at DSMA.
“Our team has been working on the preparation of this transaction for almost four years. The two shareholders of Mack Volvo Group, Richard Noseworthy and Luc Rivard, who wanted to retire, were looking for an experienced partner to sell their company. After studying the offers and services of other agencies, they decided to work with us on this great adventure.
Knowing your true value
But it’s not enough to be ready to sell your dealership(s), says Kowalsky. “You have to be well prepared to do it. And this is where the expertise of our in-house finance, marketing, legal and acquisitions teams made the difference in the process,” he says.
Before going to market, the dealer needs to know the true value of the business. A value, he warns, that is not always pleasing to hear. The value of the business is not only based on the number of vehicles sold per year, payroll, inventory, revenues and other operational factors. “The value of the infrastructure and land on which the buildings are located, as well as the geographic location of the dealerships, are also an integral part of the equation. This is critical data that we at DSMA have in our possession, thanks to the 1,500 appraisals and more than 350 lease transactions we have overseen in North America since 2012,” says Lev Kowalsky. This unique background allows his team to analyze and assess the true value of dealerships in every detail, regardless of their vehicle segment.
Finding the right buyer
Once the fair value of the Mack Volvo Group was established, the DSMA team was able to deploy its extensive network on both sides of the border to help its client find a potential buyer. Every market in North America was approached,” says Lev. To qualify, the buyer not only had to have the means to acquire the group, but also the assets the sellers were looking for to perpetuate the corporate culture of Mack Volvo Group.
In addition to this non-negotiable condition on the part of the sellers, the buyer also had to not be linked to any other heavy truck brand,” adds DSMA-Québec associate François McDonald, who also played a decisive role in the transaction. Some Canadian dealers and investor groups associated with other truck brands, who showed interest in the Mack Volvo Group portfolio, were not able to receive the manufacturer’s approval, he points out. “The heavy-duty truck industry does not allow multi-brand strategies at its dealerships,” adds François.
The advantage of a vast network of contacts
To overcome this obstacle, François and his team came up with the idea of expanding their list of potential buyer candidates. “After much research, we approached the St-Henri Group, a family-owned business that has been in operation in Montreal since 1901. This organization, which is well acquainted with the heavy truck industry through the sale and distribution of semi-trailers, represented a possible serious buyer. We were not wrong. The Larocque family, owners of St-Henri Group, were thrilled with our proposal, which allowed them to consolidate their position as leaders in the trucking industry,” shares François McDonald.
A more than satisfied customer
This enthusiasm is just as palpable on the part of the former shareholders of Mack Volvo Group, who have nothing but good things to say about the DSMA agency. “From the beginning, Lev and his team were extremely professional in guiding us through our retirement strategy and financial objectives. They were knowledgeable, very helpful and most importantly, totally involved throughout the various stages,” shares Richard Noseworthy.
From the creation of the MIC, the market analysis, the development of a list of potential and qualified buyers, the due diligence process and the final phase, the signing of the contract, the DSMA team, he says, went above and beyond in every aspect. In fact,” concludes Richard Noseworthy, “Lev and his team got us to the finish line as a winner. This confirms to us that we made the right decision to do business with DSMA.”