Kalamazoo-based Zeigler Automotive Group ranked as the 62nd largest dealership group in the U.S. with 15,090 new car sales in 2017, according to an annual ranking in Automotive News. Last year, the company generated $1.08 billion in revenue with 23 stores in West Michigan and the Chicago area and one it just sold in New York. Despite projections for slowing auto sales nationally, President Aaron Zeigler said the dealership group has experienced a strong start to 2018 with sales up more than 20 percent in January and February and with business on track for an all-time company record month in March. “It isn’t even close,” he said during a recent interview at the new Zeigler Motorsports store in Comstock Township. He spoke with MiBiz about the car dealer business and his company’s success through an intentional focus on leadership training.
As the leader of a family-owned business, Aaron Zeigler can relate to the owners of car dealerships acquired by his Kalamazoo-based Zeigler Automotive Group. The $1 billion (revenues) mega-dealer has grown by acquiring other family-owned dealerships in recent years, earning it a national ranking of 64th in new car sales last year, according to Automotive News. Zeigler, a second-generation owner, spoke with MiBiz about the intricacies of buying other family-owned dealerships in an era when the automakers often control whether a transaction can move forward.
To say Aaron Zeigler is optimistic may be an understatement. Zeigler Auto Group recently topped $1 billion in annual revenue and expects to add another $50 million in revenue before the close of this year. By March, the organization hopes to finish construction on a motorsports dealership and “action park” — complete with a full restaurant, bar and several miles of test tracks — that will serve as a destination for enthusiasts, said Zeigler, the president of the dealership group. He projects growth by acquisition to continue to heat up in 2017. “We could add another three to four dealers next year pretty easily,” he said. Overall, Zeigler bets the economy will likely continue to grow, particularly if the incoming administration fulfills its promises to cut taxes.