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Oregon company buys 3 Tampa Bay area auto dealerships

Wesley Chapel Toyota, Wesley Chapel Honda and Tampa Honda dealerships change hands
Lithia Motors Inc. has acquired three dealerships from the Williams Automotive Group including Wesley Chapel Toyota near the Interstate 75 and State Road 54 interchange in Wesley Chapel. [[Times (2007]]
Published Nov. 12

National car dealer Lithia Motors Inc. is driving into the Tampa Bay market, acquiring three area dealerships for nearly $40 million.

Lithia, based in Medford, Ore., purchased Wesley Chapel Toyota and Wesley Chapel Honda, both near the interchange of Interstate 75 and State Road 54 in Wesley Chapel, and Tampa Honda, on N Florida Avenue in Tampa, from the Williams Automotive Group in transactions that closed earlier this month.

Lithia bought the dealerships and three parcels totaling 21.2 acres in Pasco County for more than $28.5 million and the Tampa Honda property for $10.7 million, according to public records.

“We are excited to expand our presence in Florida and position Lithia for further growth in this key geographic region,” Bryan DeBoer, Lithia Motors Inc. president and CEO, said in a released statement. “This new partnership increases our national coverage, now reaching nine out of every 10 consumers in the country and also furthering our modernization strategy.”

Lithia has 185 locations nationally and is targeting the Southeast for expansion. The three Tampa Bay area stores are expected to generate a combined $325 million in revenue annually, the company said.

According to the company’s web site, Walt DeBoer founded Lithia Motors in 1946 as a Chrysler-Plymouth-Dodge dealership in Ashland, Ore. Later, his son, Sid, and a partner grew the business to five stores and 19 franchises in southern Oregon. In 1996, the collection of dealerships transformed into Lithia Motors, Inc., a company publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol LAD.

Williams Automotive Group formed in 2000 as Southeast Automotive Group. The company retained ownership of its Lexus of Wesley Chapel dealership, located adjacent to Wesley Chapel Toyota.

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