Walsh Motors sells dealership
Walsh Motors, a brand associated with Carroll for decades, has inked a sale of its dealership and assets to Motor Inn Auto Group, a largely northwest Iowa new and used vehicle organization.
For decades, the Walsh family has operated a Carroll car dealership. That changes on Dec. 20 when Motor Inn Auto Group of northwest Iowa officially acquires the dealership — which is expected to be called Motor Inn of Carroll.
The sale is official on Dec. 20. The Carroll dealership — which has General Motors and Toyota franchises — is expected to be called Motor Inn of Carroll.
Walsh Motors co-owner Lou Walsh, who has operated the dealership since the late 1970s, confirmed the arrangement this morning. Walsh said he’s been working with Estherville-based Motor Inn Group for months on the plan.
“These things are incredibly difficult to unwind,” Walsh, 70, said. “They’re very complicated. I needed to get going on that while I still had good health. It’s taken up 10 months to get everything lined up.”
Walsh said the closing date is timed to take advantage of the 2012 tax climate. What’s more, he said, business at Walsh Motors has “never been better,” meaning Walsh was in the strongest possible negotiating position for a sale.
“Everything just lined up to make this an opportune time,” Walsh said.
In 1990, Walsh earned the Toyota franchise to add to the General Motors mix. Later, Walsh acquired Beardmore Chevrolet, creating a juggernaut at 1526 Le Clark Road in western Carroll.
Walsh said Motor Inn Auto Group plans to incorporate the Walsh Motors workforce into its operations.
“This is more than a brick-and-mortar transaction,” Walsh said. “There are 35 wonderful people working here.”
Walsh and his wife, Marianne, co-own Walsh Motors. The couple plan to continue living in Carroll.
“I’m hoping to spend a little more time traveling,” Lou Walsh said.
The Walshses oldest son, Chuck, who has been involved with sales and other functions of the business, is pursuing other ventures in Carroll. Another son of Lou and Marianne, Ed Walsh, who grew up in Carroll, is a successful auto-sales professional in Prescott, Ariz.
Some of the staff of Walsh Motors who will join Motor Inn will have an ownership stake in the operation.
Lou Walsh said Walsh Motors is essentially an umbrella organization with new-vehicle sales, used sales, parts, body and service departments functioning with great autonomy.
Walsh said the Carroll Toyota dealership consistently has ranked in the top five in the nation for customer satisfaction in competition with more than 1,200 franchises.
The Motor Inn Auto Group has locations in Estherville, Spirit Lake, Spencer, LeMars, Algona, Webster City, Knoxville and Orange City. Carroll is expected to be its largest dealership, Walsh said.
“They run their operations pretty much with the hands off rather than just as a chain,” Walsh said.
For his part, Walsh is a former president of the Carroll Chamber of Commerce who played a key role in creation of the Carroll Area Development Corp. Walsh also served as a leader in recruiting new businesses to Carroll.
Walsh had purchased the dealership from the former and short-lived Peterson Motors.
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