Family-owned Kansas City auto group buys Honda, Chrysler dealerships from Lawrence’s Dale Willey

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

The Honda dealership, 2851 Iowa St., is pictured on Jan. 29, 2024.

A Kansas City family who just marked its 100th year in the Kansas City market has completed a deal to expand into Lawrence.

The Bob Sight Auto Group on Tuesday took over ownership of both the Honda and Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram dealerships on south Iowa Street. The company bought the two dealerships from Lawrence-based Dale Willey Automotive, which will continue to operate the Chevrolet and GMC dealership in south Lawrence.

Bob Sight owns a Ford dealership in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and a Kia dealership in Independence, Missouri. The company traces its roots in Kansas City back to 1923, and the dealership is now on its fourth generation of ownership within the Sight family, said Aaron Rowe, the new general manager for the two Lawrence dealerships.

“We’re just growing the family,” Rowe said of the expansion. “We’re family operated and family values. It is pretty simplistic. We try to just create the best work environment for our employees and be the easiest place to do business.”

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Workers install a new temporary sign on Jan. 30, 2024, announcing the change in ownership at Lawrence’s Honda dealership.

Rowe said the new company has kept every employee of the dealerships who wanted to remain with the new venture.

Rowe said the Honda and CDJR dealerships both expect to expand workforce totals because a major strategy with the purchase is to boost the number of vehicles sold. A key to that plan will be to significantly increase the inventory at the two dealerships, Rowe said.

“We are going to be expanding new inventories and used inventories,” Rowe said. “We have seven acres of lot space here. It is huge. We are going to fill it up with cars.”

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

The Chrysler, Dodge Jeep, Ram dealership, 2300 W. 29th Terrace, is pictured on Jan. 29, 2024.

Rowe said an increase in inventory is important in the bigger picture of the Lawrence auto market too.

“We want to help change some perceptions and keep the business local,” Rowe said. “People don’t have to go to Kansas City to get the best deal.”

Rowe said Bob Sight Auto had been considering expansion for a while and had looked at several markets. Lawrence was chosen in part because of its location and demographics, but he said the company’s owners, Zachary Sight and Brian Sight, were fans of the community. Zachary Sight attended KU, Rowe said.

“I think they just saw it as a huge opportunity,” said Rowe, who lives in Lawrence and came to the company from the Laird Noller Auto Group.

The sale brings to a close Dale Willey’s ownership of the two dealerships, after having purchased them in 2019. Greg Maurer, owner of Dale Willey Automotive, said he made the decision to sell as he began planning for the future after having worked for 40 years in the auto dealer industry.

“This gives me a little bit more free time,” Maurer said. “There are a lot of hours in the car business, and with three dealerships there are even more hours. I thought at some point I have to slow down a little.”

The change will allow him to focus all his professional energies on the Chevrolet and GMC dealership on south Iowa Street. He said that dealership has plans to add some workshop bays to its service department, and also will continue to focus on new and used vehicle sales.

He said the sales side of the business should start operating more smoothly as the major auto manufacturers are improving their production processes in the wake of the pandemic that snarled supply chains across the globe.

“The supply chain has come around quite a bit,” Maurer said. “Production numbers are up. They are able to make a lot more vehicles now.”


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