Sutherlin Automotive Group Acquires Earl Duff Subaru in Kingston, Tennessee
October 11, 2022
Performance Brokerage Services, North America’s highest volume dealership brokerage firm, is pleased to announce the sale of Earl Duff Subaru in Kingston, Tennessee from Tim Duff to Brett Sutherlin and Sutherlin Automotive Group.
Go or grow? If you ask most franchise automotive dealers these days when they plan on selling, one of the most common answers will be, “when the time is right”. In that case, when and what determines that time? Succession planning is a great place to start if you have a successor, but more second and third generations aren’t following in the family footsteps. Combine that with strong valuations and the demand exceeding the supply, dealers are finding themselves considering a sale far sooner than they anticipated, just like Tim Duff of Earl Duff Subaru.
Following the sale, Duff commented, “George Chaconas of Performance Brokerage Services reached out to me on a referral from a fellow 20-group member and long-time friend who recently sold their dealerships. We recently relocated our Subaru dealership to a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility and had been seeing successful growth. The dealership was a very attractive opportunity for the new buyers in a desirable and growing market. I did not have a succession plan and had no interest in buying another dealership. I had other ventures to pursue, and the timing was perfect. George brought me a very attractive offer from a highly qualified auto group, Sutherlin Automotive, that already had locations in the Southeast, in Georgia and Florida. Even with some of the last-minute issues at closing, it was a seamless transaction overall. George was able to help mediate myself, along with my attorneys and the buyers, in liquidating my family’s biggest asset after decades of ownership. I would like to thank George and his team for making this a reality and would highly recommend him to help navigate your family’s legacy.”
Over the last 5 years, Performance Brokerage Services has advised on the sale of over 300 dealerships, making it the highest volume dealership brokerage firm in North America. In 2021, the company consummated 72 transactions, marking a record-breaking year. George C. Chaconas, the exclusive buy-side advisor for this transaction and the Southeast Automotive Partner for Performance Brokerage Services, commented, “With the passing of one of my favorite clients, George Sutherlin, I developed a relationship with his son, Brett Sutherlin, who now leads Sutherlin Automotive Group. Brett and I started searching for opportunities to grow the group’s portfolio and I identified Earl Duff Subaru just outside of Knoxville, Tennessee. After almost 50 years in the automotive industry, Tim Duff, second generation CEO after his late father, Earl Duff, was seeking to pursue other ventures outside of the automotive world and decided it was the right time to exit. Although this was an emotional buy-sell process for the Duff family, we were able to come to terms quickly, and the Duffs found comfort in passing the torch to another family owned and operated company with Sutherlin Automotive. It was a great honor and privilege to work with Brett to assist the group’s continued growth. I want to thank Tim Duff, Brett Sutherlin, and Mike Spinazze for their assistance during this transaction, and I look forward to more in the future. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to have been of service to both the Duff family and Sutherlin Automotive Group.”
Brett Sutherlin, CEO of Sutherlin Automotive Group, one of the largest privately held Nissan dealers in the United States, is on the move. Sutherlin, a true entrepreneur, has some big shoes to fill. His late father, George Sutherlin, was a legend in the automotive industry, and Brett has taken over the family business to continue his father’s legacy. Sutherlin, who has over 26 years in the industry, is in growth mode. Known for his ability to lead businesses with his expertise in digital marketing, his hard work ethic, and a mentor to many, Sutherlin will lead the group to become an even bigger powerhouse in the coming years.
Following the sale, Sutherlin commented, “Before my father’s passing, he worked with George Chaconas on prior buy-sells, so it was a no-brainer to continue that personal relationship. Knowing that I wanted to continue to grow and enter the Tennessee market, George introduced me to Tim Duff, the Dealer Principal of Earl Duff Subaru just outside of Knoxville. The dealership is a brand-new, image-compliant facility, and had been in the family for years. George was very involved throughout the entire transaction, and I thank him and his team for an excellent outcome with many more to come!”
The dealership will remain at its current location at 531 Gallaher Road in Kingston, Tennessee and has been renamed Sutherlin Subaru.