Kerrigan Advisors Represents Bob Baker Auto Group in Sale of Five Carlsbad, CA Dealerships to AutoNation

Written by:
Melanie Webber
mWEBB Communications
June 5, 2023

Sale of nine franchises across five high volume dealerships in the affluent San Diego area marks Kerrigan Advisors' 192nd dealership sale since 2015; over 90% of franchises sold to public consolidators in 2023 were represented by Kerrigan Advisors

JUNE 5, 2023 - Kerrigan Advisors, the premier sell-side advisor and thought partner to auto dealers nationwide, represented Carlsbad, California-based Bob Baker Auto Group in the sale of Bob Baker Hyundai and Genesis of Carlsbad; Bob Baker Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and Fiat (CDJR); Bob Baker Mazda; Bob Baker Subaru; and Bob Baker Volkswagen to AutoNation Group (NYSE: AN). This marks the 188th - 192nd dealership transaction led by Kerrigan Advisors since 2015. Through June 5, 2023, Kerrigan Advisors has represented over 90% of the US franchises sold to public auto retail consolidators.

Bob Baker Auto Group has been a mainstay in the greater San Diego market since 1979, selling 26% of all new vehicles in Carlsbad, San Diego's 2nd largest car market. Bob Baker Subaru is the highest volume Subaru dealership in San Diego, and 10th highest volume Subaru franchise in the US. The auto group was founded by Bob Baker, a pioneer in the California auto retail market who passed in 2021. For the last decade, the group has been led by Chris Baker, Bob Baker's son.

Throughout his 60-year career, Bob Baker owned more than 25 car dealerships throughout the country and garnered many industry accolades, including serving as chairman of the New Car Dealer Association of San Diego. From Korean War hero to self-made entrepreneur, he built the Baker legacy. Known for his "million-dollar smile" he lived by a simple credo, 'do good,' donating millions of dollars to local community organizations and a wide array of charities. For at least a decade, Baker donated from $500,000 to $1.7 million a year to Catholic churches and schools, programs for military veterans, and Solutions for Change, a nonprofit that helps North County homeless families. One of the greatest symbols of his philanthropic spirit is the Korean War Veterans Tribute Tower and Carillon at Miramar National Cemetery.

"Bob and Chris built a lasting legacy in greater San Diego with their tremendous community involvement and philanthropic pursuits" said Erin Kerrigan, Founder and Managing Director of Kerrigan Advisors. "The Bob Baker Auto Group reflects the Baker family's commitment to the service of others. Finding a buyer committed to keeping employees and customer service at the forefront was imperative to the family. We found an ideal buyer in AutoNation: the location, volume of sales, and its existing presence in the area made this a synergistic acquisition for one of the largest publics in our industry" continued Kerrigan. "We have known Chris Baker for a long time and were honored to represent the Baker family in this transaction, helping to ensure that their legacy continues with AutoNation, a fixture of the Southern California auto retail market for over 45 years."

The transaction includes nine franchises across five stores, all of which are high-volume, top-performing dealerships. The group retailed over 5,250 new vehicles in 2022 and has garnered a long list of accolades, including:

  • Bob Baker Subaru: Highest volume Subaru dealership in San Diego; sixth highest volume Subaru franchise in California; 10th highest in the US.
  • Bob Baker CDJR: JD Power Certified; Customer First Award for Excellence by Stellantis
  • Bob Baker Mazda: A 7-time President's Award winner, including each consecutive year since 2017, in addition to being the 2nd highest volume Mazda dealership in San Diego.

"What my dad started in 1965, when he purchased his first dealership in Indiana, has become a vibrant tradition of putting people first, and taking care of their sales and service needs, while also championing California auto retailer goals to create a prosperous industry in the state" said Chris Baker, President of Bob Baker Auto Group. "I can think of no better way to salute his legacy than by saying 'Thank You' to our employees for this decades-long relationship. Dad coined the jingle 'The Bob Baker Auto Group, where it's so nice to be nice,' and you helped make that a reality, year after year. None of our success would have been achieved without your service and dedication. I know that you are in good hands with AutoNation."

Chris Baker, who purchased the Carlsbad locations from his father in 2010, has spent his whole career in auto retail, starting with his father's dealerships before charting his own course in the Carlsbad Car Country auto mall. Over the years, Chris has played a leadership role within the auto retail industry, serving on the Board of Directors of the California New Car Dealers Association, San Diego New Car Dealers Association, Mazda's Dealer Advisory board, as well as many other OEM dealer councils.

"Because this was such an important transaction, representing a business history of almost 50 years, we needed a carefully considered approach, which is why we chose Kerrigan Advisors. The Kerrigan team provided valuable guidance and insight through every stage of the process, particularly Erin Kerrigan and Marie Brashears. Kerrigan Advisors was a crucial partner to us in our sale, exceeding my expectations, and making sure that each detail of the transaction achieved our family's goals" continued Baker.

In today's market, buyers are highly motivated to acquire top assets, especially when it comes to volume and location" said Ryan Kerrigan, Managing Director of Kerrigan Advisors. "Opportunities in prime areas, such as San Diego County, are what buyers want, and those attributes are well represented in the Bob Baker Auto Group, one of the top-performers in the San Diego region. Bob Baker offered a collection of brands that are rapidly gaining market share in a strong and affluent area. We were honored to represent the family in this once-in-a-lifetime transaction."Home to over 3 million residents, San Diego is the 2nd largest MSA in California and is among the highest ranked markets to live by US News  & World Report. The area offers an economic hub featuring biotech and communications, several prominent universities, and the pacific headquarters for the US Navy. The result is an affluent population with stable incomes and a highly educated workforce. Since 2000, San Diego's MSA has grown 16.3%, outpacing the state's growth rate by 5.4%.

Kerrigan Advisors is the most active sell-side advisor on larger transactions in the auto retail industry. The firm attributes its success to its team's laser-focus on fulfilling each client's personal and professional goals. In addition to its sell-side advisory work, the firm offers strategic consulting services to dealers and their families, including growth planning, capital raising and acquisition valuation analysis, creating value for their clients at every stage of the auto retail lifecycle.

About Kerrigan Advisors

Kerrigan Advisors is the premier sell-side advisor and thought partner to auto dealers nationwide. The firm advises the industry's leading dealership groups, enhancing value through the lifecycle of growing, operating and, when the time is right, selling their businesses. Kerrigan Advisors has represented some of auto retail's largest transactions and advised more of the largest dealership groups in the US than any other buy/sell firm in the industry. Led by a team of veteran industry experts with backgrounds in investment banking, private equity, accounting, finance and real estate, the firm does not take listings, rather they develop a customized approach for each client to achieve their personal and financial goals. In addition to Kerrigan Advisors' sell-side advisory and capital raising services, the firm also provides a suite of consulting services including growth strategy, market valuation assessments, capital allocation, transactional due diligence, open point proposals, operational improvement and real estate due diligence.

Kerrigan Advisors monitors conditions in the buy/sell market and publishes an in-depth analysis each quarter in The Blue Sky Report®, which includes Kerrigan Advisors' signature blue sky charts, multiples, and analysis for each franchise in the luxury and non-luxury segments.—To download a preview of the report, click here.—The firm also releases monthly The Kerrigan Index™ composed of the seven publicly traded auto retail companies with operations focused on the US market. The Kerrigan Auto Retail Index is designed to track dealership valuation trends, while also providing key insights into factors influencing auto retail.—To access The Kerrigan Index™, click here.—To read the—2023 Kerrigan OEM Survey, click here.—Kerrigan Advisors also is the co-author of NADA's Guide to Buying and Selling a Dealership.

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