How to Sell Your Automotive Distribution Business—An Insider’s Perspective

Raymond S. Hughes

 

I left my first stint in investment banking for the less glamorous world of automotive equipment distribution.

Going from suits and boardrooms to jeans and paint booth pits was quite a transition, but it helped me realize what more and more people are finding out: the path to wealth is often found in owning a blue collar, service-oriented business, and then eventually selling that business. But if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you already know that.

 

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In my case, the catalyst to leave investment banking was to join my family’s 30-year-old automotive equipment company following a strategic buyer’s interest in purchasing the business. I loved the idea of working with my family, and it was a truly great experience.

 

At the time, I felt my banking experience would be helpful in the sales process and I would like to experience it firsthand, which is also how I got back into banking. But until that initial acquisition interest, my family had not fully realized how valuable our company would appear to outside buyers.

 

In fact, it was such a niche business that selling had never become a serious discussion. After all, who would buy a business in an industry that 99% of the country has never thought about? Spoiler alert: There was a ton of interest from all sorts of potential buyers.

 

Distribution is sometimes overlooked as the key cog it is in the automotive aftermarket ecosystem.

 

Whether you sell coatings and parts, paint booths and frame machines, or alignment equipment and compressors, you’re vital to the success of your customers. They rely on you to help them make money, plain and simple. Now, with massive levels of consolidation among your customers—be they collision repair centers, tire stores or car dealerships—you’re at a bit of a crossroads yourself. As your customers get bigger and more sophisticated, they expect you to…

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