Ken Ganley is always looking for an opportunity to bring more dealerships into the fold at Ganley Auto Group. He’s a relentless dealmaker who believes that acquisitions not only expand his company’s physical presence, but also provide new leadership opportunities for his employees.
“Some of my best transactions are actually great because the people we were able to promote and put into positions that maybe they never dreamed possible,” says Ganley, president and CEO at the dealership that has its eye on $2 billion in sales for 2018. “Then it shows the rest of our staff that those opportunities are all over the company.”
After snagging Central Cadillac last fall, Ganley Auto Group expanded into Pennsylvania for the first time in February with the purchase of a Toyota dealershipand now owns 37 dealerships in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.
This week, we sat down with Ganley to talk about the value that experience can bring to dealmaking and his fondness for taking on challenges when making an acquisition. What follow is a transcript of the above video, edited for readability.
Each deal is a learning experience
Some of the most memorable deals I’ve been involved in, obviously you’re going to always remember the first one. I even remember the date, Dec. 5, 1995. My dad and I became partners in Akron in a Toyota and a Mercedes-Benz dealership. As time goes on, you keep memories from every transaction you’ve ever made. It’s really the people I’ve dealt with. Dealing with great men and women who are selling me their business, I learned a lot from them. I was able to get a lot of knowledge and information from those sellers. But every deal, every deal has got its memories.
I think you need a dealmaking mindset any time you’re in business. I’m in the car business, so a dealmaking mindset is pretty much what I have to wake up with every single morning. When opportunities present themselves to me, I may not initially think that it’s a great fit. But the more I think about it and go through the due diligence, deals will work out for us. We’re in states right now that I wouldn’t have expected to be in if you had asked me three, four, five, 10 years ago. So you need to have a dealmaking mindset whether you’re a buyer or a seller pretty much every day.
Buying a fixer-upper
I prefer situations in any kind of transaction, I like fixer-uppers where things are broken and need to be fixed. If that company needs our staff to come in and help get it right, it’s worked out very well for me. There are some situations where I’ve purchased a company that is operating very efficiently and has a great group of people. For instance, Central Cadillac had a great group of people when we purchased it. We didn’t really need to do a whole lot there except bring some of our culture to the table. In general, I’d prefer something that’s broken and needs to be fixed.
Always be closing. Unless…
It’s hard because you put so much time into deals and you get emotionally attached to it. Sometimes you’ll put months, if not years into a potential deal. If something doesn’t work out, it’s a little bit hard to swallow. I always make it a priority that we’re going to get to the closing table and we’re going to make the seller happy. But once in a while, that doesn’t work out. There has to be a significant reason for me. Normally, I’ll try to overcome just about anything we have to to close the deal and finish it. But every now and again, if something significant comes up, you might have to walk away.
Deals facilitate leadership development
I think one of my obligations is to see our team members grow in the company. I love fostering a team member who is brand new to the company, maybe even a teenager, and watching them grow through the company. Some of my best transactions are actually great because the people we were able to promote and put into positions that maybe they never dreamed possible. Then it shows the rest of our staff that those opportunities are all over the company. Doing that and giving people opportunities is a great way of giving back. You see them have an opportunity that maybe they never dreamed they would have. When they excel at it, that’s the most satisfying part.