Downtown Springfield auto dealership sold

Prominent businessman, civic leader Jim Foreman sells to owners of Lebanon Ford dealership.


Complete Coverage

The Springfield News-Sun provides unmatched coverage of jobs and the economy in Clark County. For this story, the paper spoke to local business owners and auto analysts about the sale of a local dealership and auto industry sales.

By the numbers:

54 — Approximate employees at Springfield Buick GMC Cadillac dealership

45 years — Years Jim Foreman spent in the auto business

17.1 million — U.S. light vehicles expected to be sold this year

10 million — Approximate light vehicle sales in 2009

Sources: Jim Foreman Buick, GMC, Cadillac, IHS Automotive

By the numbers:

54 — Approximate employees at Springfield Buick GMC Cadillac dealership

45 years — Years Jim Foreman spent in the auto business

17.1 million — U.S. light vehicles expected to be sold this year

10 million — Approximate light vehicle sales in 2009

Sources: Jim Foreman Buick, GMC, Cadillac, IHS Automotive

By the numbers:

54 — Approximate employees at Springfield Buick GMC Cadillac dealership

45 years — Years Jim Foreman spent in the auto business

17.1 million — U.S. light vehicles expected to be sold this year

10 million — Approximate light vehicle sales in 2009

Sources: Jim Foreman Buick, GMC, Cadillac, IHS Automotive

By the numbers:

54 — Approximate employees at Springfield Buick GMC Cadillac dealership

45 years — Years Jim Foreman spent in the auto business

17.1 million — U.S. light vehicles expected to be sold this year

10 million — Approximate light vehicle sales in 2009

Sources: Jim Foreman Buick, GMC, Cadillac, IHS Automotive

By the numbers:

54 — Approximate employees at Springfield Buick GMC Cadillac dealership

45 years — Years Jim Foreman spent in the auto business

17.1 million — U.S. light vehicles expected to be sold this year

10 million — Approximate light vehicle sales in 2009

Sources: Jim Foreman Buick, GMC, Cadillac, IHS Automotive

A prominent Clark County business owner traded in his downtown auto dealership Tuesday at a time when auto sales have stabilized and are expected to remain so for the next several years.

Jim Foreman, owner of Jim Foreman Buick, GMC, Cadillac in Springfield, sold his business after 45 years in the industry to a pair of business partners, closing the deal Tuesday. The new owners will be Lisa Cryder and Winston Pittman. The dealership at 242 E. Columbia St. will be now be called Springfield Buick GMC Cadillac.

The business will remain downtown, even as many dealerships have relocated from city centers to highways.

The auto industry has boomed back from the depths of the Great Recession, said Chris Hopson, an auto industry analyst for IHS Automotive. In 2009 about 10 million vehicles were sold in the U.S. This year experts are predicting about 17.1 million vehicles will be sold.

That means the U.S. auto industry is on pace to hit the record sales mark from 2000 again this year.

“It’s a very good environment right now and we expect it to remain healthy for the next two or three years also,” Hopson said.

Sales could increase next year to as much as 17.3 million vehicles and as much as 17.7 million in 2017.

Foreman said he enjoyed a long career in auto sales but knew it was time to step down and began negotiations in June with Cryder and Pittman.

“I just got to the point where I wanted to move on,” he said.

Foreman also serves in other civic roles, including as chairman of the Springfield Port Authority, an economic development agency. He plans to stay active in the community, including on the port authority board.

Cryder and Pittman also own other dealerships, including Lebanon Ford in Lebanon, Ohio. The downtown Springfield dealership was a good fit because it was within an hour of the Lebanon dealership and the timing was right, Cryder said.

“We’re in the luxury business and we own two Lexus stores,” Pittman said. “We’re trying to grow our luxury line.”

The new owners also said they plan to be active in the community.

“We just want to add to it,” Cryder said of Foreman’s impact on the city. “We don’t want to take away anything he’s done in this community.”

Pittman said his career in the auto industry began when he took a job as a car salesman in 1979. Based in Louisville, Ky., he also owns luxury car dealerships in Hilton Head, S.C., and Savannah, Ga., among others.

Foreman has played an important role in Springfield, both as a businessman and as a community leader, City Manager Jim Bodenmiller said.

“Jim’s been a fixture in the business community for almost 50 years,” Bodenmiller said. “He was instrumental in the Prime Ohio I development that took place 30-plus years ago. But for his negotiation skills I’m not sure the land purchases would have even gone through.”

Foreman also served on numerous boards, and helped on projects to renovate downtown buildings in the past.

“He’s one of those self-made businessmen who has good business sense and knows how to make a deal and get it done,” Bodenmiller said. “He’s kind of a no-nonsense guy who does not mind giving his two cents. He’s somewhat outspoken at times but always with the best of intentions and almost always right.”

Several factors are leading to the growth in auto sales, including an improving economy, better access to credit than in recent years and pent up demand, Hopson said. The Federal Reserve is considering a plan to raise U.S. interest rates before the end of the year, but that should have little impact on sales in the short term, he added.

“There’s a nice underpinning of conditions in the marketplace and it’s going to take a pretty extreme shock to get us off this, at least in the next 18 to 24 months,” Hopson said.

He also noted auto sales are expected to dip in August, but mostly because Labor Day falls in September this year. The holiday is traditionally one of the biggest sales weekends in the year.

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