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Northtown Automotive acquires Zeigler Honda

Northtown Automotive Cos. has acquired Zeigler Honda Amherst, adding another brand to Northtown's lineup.

The deal also ends Zeigler Automotive Group's presence in the region. While Zeigler is one of the nation's largest dealer groups, it didn't expand here beyond owning its Honda dealership over the past several years.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The dealership, located at 2277 Niagara Falls Blvd., will change its name to Northtown Honda effective Thursday, said Lawrence Schreiber, a Northtown Automotive co-owner.

Zeigler Automotive Group, based in Michigan, entered the Buffalo Niagara market in 2013 when it acquired Don Davis Honda. Zeigler subsequently rebuilt the facility, bringing it up to Honda's current standard, Schreiber said.

Zeigler ranked No. 64 on Automotive News' list of the largest dealer groups, based on 14,378 retail new vehicles it sold in 2016. But locally, its presence was limited to just one brand and location, unlike auto groups such as Northtown, West Herr, Towne, Basil and Fuccillo, whose names are on multiple dealerships across the region.

Zeigler determined the Buffalo area "might be a little bit geographically outside their ring of influence," Schreiber said.

Zeigler's other dealerships are in Michigan, Illinois and Indiana, he said. "This was the outlier for them."

Meanwhile, Northtown had been exploring opportunities to add a Honda dealership to its roster.

"Honda is definitely a brand that we've coveted for some time," he said.

The two businesses started talking last year, leading to the deal. "It was a very comfortable fit," Schreiber said.

Northtown plans to keep the dealership's 58 employees. The dealership sold 100 to 120 new Hondas per month, a figure that Northtown wants to build on.

With the addition of Honda, Northtown has 17 brands at 11 locations.

While Zeigler is exiting, a couple of other large industry players could be entering. Oregon-based Lithia Motors, No. 4 on the Automotive News list, is believed to be acquiring Ray Laks Honda Acura. CarMax plans to open a used-vehicle superstore in Amherst, though it has not specified a timeline for that project.

And locally-based dealer Towne Automotive Group is expanding its stable of auto brands to 17 by acquiring the family-owned Schmitt’s Audi Volkswagen dealership in Lancaster.

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