Auto chain may buy Camp here
Oregon auto-dealer chain already has 24 dealerships in three Western states
Marlene MehlhaffJuly 16th, 1998
Publicly traded Lithia Motors Inc., of Medford, Ore., which owns and operates 24 auto dealerships in three states, has approached Camp Automotive Inc., of Spokane, about buying the Camp dealership.
Phil Camp, president of Camp Automotive, says hell know more in about 30 days about whether a deal with Lithia will go ahead.
Over the last year or so, weve talked to a number of public companies, Camp says. Theyre the only ones were interested in. Theyre more our type. He says he likes that Lithia is based in nearby Oregon.
Camp says that if Lithia were to buy the Spokane auto dealership, the Camp family would remain involved in the operation and likely would be the businesss landlord.
Wed still be working, he says. The faces would all be the same.
Camp stresses that Camp Automotive is not necessarily looking to sell and isnt actively seeking buyers. Im happy with the way things are going at the dealership, he says.
Still, Camp says hes now 58 years old and is looking to develop some sort of exit strategy.
Camp Automotive, which is located at 101 E. Montgomery, has been in business here since 1959. It sells Chevrolet, Geo, Subaru, BMW, and Volvo automobiles and employs around 225 people.
Lithia Motors, meanwhile, has 14 dealerships in California, seven in Oregon, and three in Nevada. The company has added 15 of those dealerships since March 1997 and now sells 23 brands of automobiles.
Recently, it bought its first Chevrolet dealership. We now have completed a master agreement with General Motors that will allow us to acquire additional Chevrolet or other GM brand stores, the company said in a recent press release. It said it will aggressively seek other GM dealerships.
Lithia, which went public in December 1996, reported revenues of $146.2 million for the first quarter of 1998, up 167 percent from $54.7 million for the first quarter of 1997. Earnings for the 1998 quarter totaled $1.52 million, up 33 percent from 1997. During that time, it sold 3,422 new vehicles and 3,027 used ones.
If Lithia were to buy Camp Automotive, it would be the second such purchase of a Spokane-based dealership by one of the nations new publicly traded auto-dealer chains. Last year, Republic Industries Inc., of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., bought Spokane-based Appleway Group for $42 million in stock.