Two longtime auto dealerships in Mount Airy, one specializing in Ford products and the other Chevrolet, are now under the same ownership due to an expansion of Scenic Motors.
Justin Gough of Scenic, the local Ford and Lincoln dealership, has announced his acquisition of Collins Chevrolet, which became official on Tuesday after a period of negotiations. Both businesses are located just less than a mile of each other on Rockford Street (U.S. 601) and will operate under the Scenic Automotive umbrella.
Gough, 31, is president of and co-owns Scenic Motors with his aunt Sheree Beasley, who is not involved with this week’s transaction.
“I went out and purchased Collins Chevrolet on my own,” he said, explaining that the move reflected an intention of his to increase the Scenic operation.
“It got to where it was time for us to expand,” added Gough, whose grandfather, D.A. Gough, launched the business in 1957.
“And we wanted to apply it to another brand,” Justin Gough said of the dealership’s business model. With the Collins acquisition, that location will continue selling Chevys as well as Buicks, Cadillacs, GMC products and Subarus, while Scenic maintains its Ford and Lincoln offerings.
“I started looking,” Gough said of his expansion effort, which led to discussions with the longtime owner of Collins Chevrolet. “I approached Lee Collins about it and asked him where he was in the world and if he would be interested in selling his business.”
Collins is at a point in life where he was entertaining such a move, according to Gough. “We spoke at length — it resonated with the both of us,” he said of the acquisition idea.
“He’d been approached a few times (by out-of-town entities), and he wasn’t interested in selling it to one of the big-box stores,” Gough said of Collins’ operation. “He wanted to keep it local.”
The Collins and Gough families go way back, the new owner indicated, and Collins seemed comfortable turning over ownership of his business to what largely has been a friendly rival.
Another motivation for the inter-local deal between the two auto dealerships was making sure Collins’ customers and employees “were taken care of,” Gough said.
The Collins operation has 32 employees and Scenic Motors, 46.
Those respective staffs have been left intact with the purchase and Gough said some extra personnel will be sought for the former Collins dealership. “I’m definitely looking at adding staff,” he disclosed, some quality people “to get us where we need to be.”
Meanwhile, the changeover for Collins’ customers is expected to be “seamless,” according to Gough.
“We’re trying to make this seamless for the employees and the customers,” he said. “They have great loyal customers.”
Gough also acknowledged the longtime divide between Ford and Chevrolet, a competition that has been manifested everywhere from showrooms to race tracks.
“We have our customers and they have theirs,” he agreed.
“A lot of people are passionate Ford and passionate Chevy (owners),” Gough said.
“They are both great brands.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.