Toyota’s Costa Rica retailer is in talks to buy US dealerships

Article by Andrew Christian, on April 15, 2015

Purdy Motor Group wants to expand outside Costa Rica, where it is Toyota’s exclusive distributor, and is in talks with several potential sellers in the U.S. Purdy Motor’s CEO Jesus Castro told Automotive News that in three years, it hopes to own 5 to 7 Toyota dealerships and "a couple" of Lexus stores in the U.S. Purdy Motor isn’t even halfway yet to meeting that goal.

Castro said that he prefers to buy Toyota stores that acquire their units from Houston distributor Gulf States Toyota Inc. Purdy has set its target on Texas but it is also open to acquiring stores in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma – the other states that Gulf States Toyota serve.

According to Castro, Toyota stores in these states have an “excellent” distributor and that Purdy wants to “compete with the best." It was in December 2012 that Purdy purchased Atkinson Toyota-Scion Bryan and Atkinson Toyota Madisonville.

These dealerships are both located around 70 miles north of Houston. Their former owner 61-year-old Paul Atkinson was hired to oversee its operations in North America. A native of Dallas, Atkinson began his career in the auto industry in 1981.

He had served as the chairman of the Toyota national dealer council. Atkinson said that it wasn’t an easy task to get into North America. He also said that his job entails locating the right stores. He said that he is “driving Texas first, Gulf States Toyota second and thirdly any other stores."

He shared that the company would be open to a deal outside of Gulf States Toyota if it’s “right.” Founded in 1957, privately-owned Purdy is the fourth oldest Toyota distributor in the globe.

Purdy is the owner of nine Toyota dealerships and one Lexus store in Costa Rica. It runs two Toyota dealerships in Mexico as well as three Toyota stores in the U.S. Last February, Keith Orr Toyota-Scion in Duncanville, Texas, was bought by Purdy.

Its name was changed to Atkinson Toyota-Scion South Dallas. Atkinson revealed that the store has been slightly underperforming but that it had plenty of potential. Castro, who became a part of Purdy in 1988 after being in the hotel and tourism industry for two decades, posts total annual sales of around 15,000 new and 6,000 used vehicles.

Castro graduated from Cornell University and has an MBA in international business. Purdy made a business decision in 2005 to sell Toyota products exclusively. Since it already dominated Costa Rica, its expansion will have to be in the United States.

Castro explained that they determined that the U.S. and Mexico were the “most sophisticated” and “most competitive” markets where more can be learned than if they go to South or Central America.

Purdy’s goal is to shift transfer dealership best practices in both directions of the border. Atkinson said that talks are ongoing with several possible sellers. He said that Purdy is interested in dealerships that have been run well and that are looking for buyers that want to take care of their people.

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