Carroll dealer changes hands Len Stoler adds Westminster Motor to broad lineup; Autos

THE BALTIMORE SUN

In another case of consolidating car dealers, Len Stoler Inc. has bought Westminster Motor Co. in Carroll County, the companies said yesterday.

Stoler, which already operates dealerships in Owings Mills and Westminster, adds Westminster Motor's Chevrolet, Oldsmobile and Cadillac operations to an already broad lineup.

Westminster owner Jeffrey Legum is leaving a business that traces its roots to 1921, when his grandfather founded Park Circle Chevrolet in Baltimore.

"It's a bittersweet moment," Legum said. "I've been a Chevrolet dealer for over 30 years, and a Cadillac and Oldsmobile dealer for 24 years."

Westminster books about $50 million in annual sales, including deals with fleet buyers, Legum said. Recently, Westminster was selling about 1,000 cars a year to individuals and another 2,500 to fleets.

"We were probably the third largest Chevrolet dealer in the Baltimore area," Legum said.

He declined to disclose a price for the company or its profitability.

The prices of profitable, sizable dealerships have been rising recent years, helped in part by acquisition sprees by big, publicly owned companies such as Republic Industries and United Auto Group. Prices for some recent deals have passed four times pre-tax earnings, according to Automotive News, a trade paper. Pretax profits for some dealerships surpass 2 percent of sales.

Len Stoler Inc. now sells a veritable United Nations of car nameplates: Nissan, Lexus, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Audi, Ford, Chrysler, Plymouth, Jeep, Suzuki, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile and Cadillac.

It is the only Baltimore-area dealership to offer vehicles from all three U.S. auto makers, the company said in a prepared statement.

Westminster Motor was started by a partner of Legum's grandfather, the late A. M. Legum.

Although he's no longer running a dealership, Legum plans to stay involved in the business: He's just bought what he called "a large position" in Republic's stock.

Pub Date: 11/18/97

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