Detroit automotive group makes second Grand Rapids acquisition

The former Pfeiffer Lincoln store has a new sign and lots of activity.

LaFontaine Automotive Group said Tuesday, January 10, that it has acquired Pfeiffer Lincoln at 2424 28th St. SE. This is his second Grand Rapids dealer for Lafontaine at Keller Ford, 3385 Alpine Avenue NW, which the Detroit-based group acquired in his August 2022 purchase.

LaFontaine CEO Ryan LaFontaine said in the release: “As we continue to execute on our retail expansion plans, we will continue to focus on diversifying our brand portfolio and personalized guest options for sales, service, parts and body shops.”

Pfeiffer is LaFontaine’s 33rd outlet, mostly in the eastern part of the state. LaFontaine has 24 brands and Pfeiffer is his second Lincoln dealer. The company has acquired 16 dealerships in the last two years, and he also owns nine crash centers across the state.

In 2022, LaFontaine sold over 50,000 vehicles and served over 275,000. This year, it plans to sell over 55,000 vehicles and service over 325,000 vehicles. According to Automotive News, the dealer group was his 33rd largest in the US in terms of 2021 sales.

LaFontaine Automotive Group dealer sales representatives can sell the company’s entire portfolio of over 5,000 used vehicles.

The company also prides itself on its strong service offering, saying it often loses money on services like oil changes and offering door-to-door service for customer convenience.

“I don’t want to be complacent. I just don’t want to be complacent,” says LaFontaine. “At the end of the day, it’s the guest experience because without them you could have the most beautiful property and invest in all of this. No. After all, this is true relationship business.”

Along with Lincoln distributors, LaFontaine acquired Pfeiffer’s wholesale business. Pfeiffer’s wholesale business is the largest wholesale Ford parts distributor in Michigan, with annual sales exceeding her $21 million. LaFontaine was already the largest wholesale parts distributor in Michigan.

Pfeiffer Lincoln was founded in the mid-1960s by Dan Pfeiffer, who died in 2021 at the age of 89.

Despite having a solid foundation, LaFontaine said dealerships have been in trouble since Pfeiffer’s death. Still, the strong spirit of the employees and Pfeiffer will continue to shine through, Lafontaine said.

Of Pfeiffer’s backbone, he said, “We have great basic people who care,” adding that the new ownership will help us quickly update our tech infrastructure and strengthen our dealer staff. We are very privileged to continue the legacy that Dan and his family have built over the years.”

Since closing the deal, LaFontaine has already doubled its used car inventory at Pfeiffer dealers to 150 vehicles. We are also working on increasing our new vehicle inventory and updating our service department.

Emphasizing the importance of employees, LaFontaine said he called them the organization’s greatest asset and said the company would continue to invest in them and provide them with opportunities for advancement.

“Every time we bring in people, it’s more people that we’re responsible for,” he said. We take it very seriously because we know not only the family, but that family as well. They expect us to do it right.”

Western Michigan’s LaFontaine Automotive Group will continue to grow, but first the organization needs to set foot in Grand Rapids to fully understand the market.

Keller-Ford and Pfeiffer Lincoln provided the two best entry points into the West Michigan market as their market presence in the eastern part of the state matured. LaFontaine said he can’t predict which dealers will be available, but he’s open-minded and well-invested in Western Michigan for the long term.

“We have been presented with several opportunities in the past,” says LaFontaine. “It’s a commitment everywhere you go, right? We want to be able to customize it. Looking back, we invested in people, to make sure we had people who were ready, who knew our culture, our integrity, and what they believed in. We’ve worked twice as hard and you can really take them with you.

The LaFontaine Automotive Group has experienced significant growth in recent years, but it’s not just about growing and increasing revenue. As the entire auto dealership industry changes and dealers consolidate, there are many adversities even for acquired dealers.

“Where there is adversity, there is opportunity for growth, right? Of course it is important to be smart, but look for opportunities to strengthen yourself so that you can maintain your endurance over the long term.” Lafontaine said. “Like any industry, it’s either growing or falling back. There’s really no middle ground.

“Every dealer has to decide for themselves which way to go, there are no right or wrong answers. If we can inspire people to become better versions of themselves, we can give them a path to become the leaders they were destined for. That’s the secret sauce and our approach as a company.”

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