A new era began last month for iconic Atlanta-area auto dealership Steve Rayman Chevrolet when it was acquired by ZT Motors, a portfolio company of Houston-based private equity firm, ZT Corporate.
Taseer Badar, Chairman and CEO of ZT Corporate, told Mega Dealer News that Rayman’s lack of a succession plan and his desire to retire from the automotive industry opened the door for the acquisition. Badar, who has a lifelong passion for cars, added that the dealership’s books “were one of the cleanest we’ve ever seen.
“It just seemed as though everything was on the up and up,” Badar said. “For us, it’s really important to ensure that we get a clean deal. It’s been our model, our matrix. We thought we could add another 20 percent earnings in the next 24 months by having applied more of our principles and help the current management achieve those results.”
Badar acknowledged the legendary status the 35-year-old dealership enjoys among Atlantans.
“Steve Rayman is a pretty iconic dealership already,” Badar said. “But what you’ll see from us is a more entrepreneurial spirit. We’re going to look to work with different banks and different groups of vendors so we can bring efficiency from our other dealerships to it. We don’t want to hurt our current staff, so we’d like to keep them around.”
ZT’s latest acquisition brings the number of dealerships listed in its portfolio to five. The other four franchises are in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
Rayman himself aided in the transition of ownership “until the last second.” According to Badar, he and his predecessor are in talks to have the namesake appear in a few commercials.
“Day to day, he’s not involved, but he’s always welcome,” Badar said.
Group 1 Automotive, Inc., Badar stated, provided inspiration on how to operate. He hopes to turn his company into an IPO, as well as other things.
“We’d like to get to $50 million and to $100 million and develop employees in our system to where someone could become a general manager in Marietta, Georgia or in Florida somewhere,” Badar said. “We want to create not only a way for our investors to do well and our employees to do well, we also want to get involved in the community.”