PHOENIX — It was less than three years ago when an equity upstart consummated a deal to purchase Wilhelm Automotive & Tire, a 92-year-old family-owned dealership with nine locations in the Phoenix area.
One of the owners, in his early 60s, was ready to retire and enjoy life on the golf course. The other owner, in his mid-40s, thought the timing was right and the deal was fair.
In August 2019, the deal closed. It would be one of several acquisitions made that year by GB Automotive, named after its majority owner, Greenbriar Equity Group L.P.
Wilhelm's other owner, however, wasn't quite ready to retire.
"So I struck around," said Chris Garman, who had run Wilhelm Automotive for 20 years, including the last 15 as president and general manager.
"I really liked what GB was doing. One of the reasons we sold to them is I liked what their thesis is."
After spending a year running GB's Phoenix-area locations, Garman was promoted to a new position: Today, he is the hunter, instead of the hunted.