Sale of Stewart HondaMD Johnson, Inc. Advises on Sale of Stewart Honda
SANTA MARIA, Calif., Jan. 9 /PRNewswire/ Stewart Honda of Santa Maria has completed the sale of the dealership to a local dealership group, comprised of Michael Bouquet, Mike McNulty and Pat Cusack. The new dealership entity has also relocated the Honda franchise next to one of the group’s domestic dealerships in downtown Santa Maria. The dealership has been renamed Honda of Santa Maria.
MD Johnson, Inc. served as the exclusive financial advisor to Nancy Stewart and her son, Barry Stewart, owners of Stewart Honda. Nancy Stewart, a Massachusetts native, moved to suburban Santa Maria, located 180 miles north of Los Angeles, nearly 50 years ago with a friend to take a teaching position during Santa Maria’s military boom. Upon her husband Jack’s death in 1988, Nancy took over the business and has operated it as one of very few female Honda dealers. Her sons Barry and Jeff have also worked in the business for many years. The buyers, all with longtime local ties to the community, also have interests in the local Toyota, Saturn, Chevrolet, BMW and Volkswagen dealerships. The Stewarts were selective in determining the identity of a successor they would trust to take over the business and look after the customers, family and friends they have taken care of since becoming the Honda dealers in 1970. Along the way, the Stewart family has represented many brands to its customer base in Santa Maria, including Oldsmobile and Subaru.
Mark Johnson, President of MD Johnson, Inc., commented that the sale of the dealership was “a difficult family decision,” one set into motion over the past several years. “Like many auto dealers, the Stewarts were faced with being required to build a new, multimillion dollar facility on a much larger parcel of property,” Johnson stated. Johnson also commented that, “This situation is occurring all over the country as dealerships find themselves unable to find large, properly zoned parcels of property. Selling a dealership is sometimes the most financially sound alternative to taking on zoning boards and committing to large amounts of capital or taking on large amounts of debt. When you have a great brand like Honda to represent, it is incumbent upon the dealer to grow with the brand. Especially when growth is prohibited based on real estate availability, this is often the outcome.”
“The buyers have real estate and an infrastructure that will make executing a relocation and the building of a new facility more appealing. Santa Maria and particularly Santa Barbara County have some peculiar zoning challenges and other issues related to agricultural preservation that made it difficult to secure a large parcel of property zoned for a dealership,” stated Johnson. Johnson further stated, “The sale solved issues that, at this point in the Stewarts’ lives, were not necessary for them to deal with.” The Stewarts obtained legal counsel from Mr. Lawrence Silver, Esq., of Silver & Field and Ms. Erin K. Tenner, Esq., of Tenner Johnson. The buyers obtained legal counsel from Mr. Brent Smith, Esq., of Manning Leaver, all of Los Angeles.