Nova Scotia

Landmark Dartmouth dealership sold to competitor

One of Dartmouth's best-known car salesmen has made his biggest sale and sold his landmark dealership to a competitor.

One of Dartmouth's best-known car salesmen has made his biggest sale and sold his landmark dealership to a competitor.

Al MacPhee, who owned MacPhee Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac Ltd. on Portland Street in Dartmouth, N.S., announced Monday that he had sold the operation to a new owner, Rob Steele.

The deal makes Steele Auto Group one of two large automotive businesses in Nova Scotia, along with the O'Regan's string of dealerships.

"The MacPhee Chevrolet operation will be handled by Andrew MacPhee, my son who is younger than me," Al MacPhee told his staff on Monday.

"The investment will be from Rob Steele, who is both richer and younger than I."

Steele said even though there will be a concentration of ownership with two mega-dealers in the Halifax-area, that doesn't mean people won't be able to drive a bargain.

"There's ample competition in the marketplace. There's still lots of choice for the consumer so it's still highly competitive," Steele told CBC News.

"Although the optics might appear that it's heavily consolidated with O'Regan's and ourselves, it really doesn't really change the competitive landscape much at all."

Steele said business will be as usual at MacPhee Chevrolet and he has no plans to shake things up — good news for the 220 employees who work there.

"The old adage — if it ain't broke you don't fix it — and that's certainly the case here so really we're not going to mess with success. I'm not foolish enough to do that," he said.

Al MacPhee did not say how much he sold the business for. Seven years ago, he spent $12 million on a new building to house his dealership, building a reputation as one of the most successful operators in Canada.

He said it isn't easy walking away from a business he has spent almost three decades building.

"I have a little crack in my heart. I really have a broken heart leaving it but there's a time to do so," he said.

Ed Spencer, a long-time member of the sales team, said it will be different without Al MacPhee as boss.

"He is an on-hand dealer. He loves this game and lives this game and I'll miss him a lot too," he said.

MacPhee is not getting out of the business completely — he will continue to run Chebucto Ford and a used-car lot in Dartmouth, as well as a leasing company that currently has a fleet of about 1,700 vehicles.