Henson Family Dealerships closed the sale of its three Madisonville car dealerships – Henson Chevrolet/Buick/GMC, Henson Ford and Henson Ram/Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep – last week to Canadian company Foundation Automotive Corp., which also owns dealerships in Western Canada and North Dakota.
“People have been running at us for a long time,” said Liz Henson, who owned and operated the dealerships with husband Fred Henson. “This just felt right, so we just pursued it.”
According to Eric Barbosa, managing partner for the Ford and Chevrolet/Buick/GMC dealerships and as Dealer Principle for the Ram/Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep dealership, the names of the dealerships will not change.
In addition to the change in ownership, a very visible shift will occur sometime next week, when the Henson Dodge dealership will move to a new home, in the former Toyota dealership on the I-45 frontage road. Foundation Automotive also plans to build a new facility for Henson Chevrolet next to the relocated Dodge establishment.
Barbosa noted that Henson, retained an ownership share in the dealerships – as well as in Foundation Automotive -- and will remain involved in operations. As reported last week, the Hensons plan to open an Ace Hardware store in the former Family Dollar store on Main Street. Liz Henson said the store may open by mid-September.
They also maintain their ownership in the local Carquest auto parts store, which will be moving into the former Dodge showroom after the dealership moves.
“I can’t say that we were actively seeking retirement, we consider ourselves young,” Liz Henson said. “I think it was on the other side (of the sale) that Fred and I realized it was time.”
In a press release Wednesday, Foundation Automotive announced that they closed transactions to buy the Henson dealerships as well as Kupper Chevrolet and Kupper Subaru, located in Mandan, North Dakota last week.
"These stores represent just the beginning of our 2019 growth. They are good stores with good people running them., and we like that," said Chuck Kramer, Chief Operating Officer of Foundation said in the release. "What we're doing is coming in and re-working some of the key processes, creating efficiencies and providing additional support. Proposed concepts and ideas have been received with enthusiasm and we anticipate quick rewards for everyone."
The company plans an even larger expansion in the near future.
"In addition to this acquisition, Foundation looks forward to owning a total of 26 stores by the end of 2019. These future acquisitions will be in the US," said president and CEO Kevin Kutschinski in the press release.
Barbosa said the combined dealerships will make large efforts in community involvement, such as with the Future Farmers of America and with first responders.
“You’ll probably see us more than you’ve seen in the past,” he said.
The company already gives away a car each month to a family in need through its social media presence, an action that has attracted national attention. The attention means that cars have gone to far-flung places, but Barbosa hopes to find a way to make similar efforts in Madison County.
“Hopefully, we’ll get to do something like that with the locals as well,” he said.