Lyle Pearson Auto Group, of Boise, says it has agreed to buy the assets of Spokane Motor Cars Inc., which operates the downtown Jaguar, Land Rover, and Volvo dealership here, from Ford Motor Co. for an undisclosed sum.
Ford took control of the business, at 1310 W. Third, from dealership development program graduate Jan Richardson late last year following a flurry of litigation during which Richardson fought to keep the manufacturer from terminating her as the dealership's operator. Since then, it has been continuing to operate under interim management.
Pearson's Jim Cross, who will run the dealership jointly with Brian Cueny, says the purchase of the dealership is expected to be completed tomorrow, May 7. Cueny, who will take over daily management responsibilities for the dealership, says the business will operate under the Lyle Pearson name overall, but with separate franchise names for each brand.
The dealership currently employs about 20 people, and Cueny says he'd like to boost that work force as sales increase. He says Pearson already has secured a master Land Rover technician, which is something the dealership didn't have previously, and will be looking to bring on other technicians with a similar high level of expertise.
"I think there's some huge opportunities here," he says.
Pearson, a 41-year-old, family-owned enterprise, touts itself as one of the earliest Land Rover dealers in the U.S., and currently offers the Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Acura, and Porsche nameplates from a multibuilding campus it occupies in Boise. Its campus there is located near the Interstate 184-Franklin Road interchange, south of the Boise Towne Plaza shopping center. Altogether, it employs about 100 people, Cueny says.
Cross says, "We know the Northwest, and we know the car business inside and out so our goal is to use our expertise to turn this dealership around and make it a primary destination for car buyers. We want to take this business to a whole new level, based on quality, exceptional customer service, and trust. I hope folks will give us a chance."
Cueny says he started his automotive career in the Tri-Cities, so he's excited to be back in Washington. He says he and Cross "intend to become an active, integral part of the Spokane community."
Through Spokane Motor Cars, Richardson had bought the assets of both the Jaguar Land Rover Spokane and Lithia Volvo dealerships here in March 2004. Ford's actions to remove her as dealership operator came to light last October when she filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer in Spokane County Superior Court, seeking a declaratory judgment upholding what she claimed was her right to have the matter resolved through arbitration, and asking for monetary damages for alleged breach of contract.
The Ford-dominated board of Spokane Motor Cars, however, already had severed its management agreement with Richardson, and Ford persuaded the court to vacate a temporary restraining order preventing it from removing her as operator.
Ford argued in court documents that it had the right, under its agreement with Richardson, to terminate her as a dealer if the dealership incurred losses rendering the dealer's common stock valueless. Based on accumulated losses by the dealership of more than $1 million between January 2005 and July 2009, and a certified 2008 year-end audit report, it said, "It is clear that Ms. Richardson's common stock has no value."
In January, a Superior Court judge approved a stipulated dismissal of Richardson's lawsuit against Ford.
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