Plymouth-based Van Horn Auto Group acquires David Hobbs Honda in Glendale

New facility planned

Plymouth-based Van Horn Automotive Group announced Tuesday it has acquired David Hobbs Honda in Glendale.

David Hobbs Honda, located at 6100 N. Green Bay Ave., is Van Horn’s first Honda dealership and its first location in the metro Milwaukee area. As part of the acquisition deal, Van Horn plans to build a new state-of-the-art Honda facility within the next three years at the Glendale site. In the short term, it will increase capacity of the dealership, expanding its pre-owned vehicle selection to more than 200 units, according to a news release.

“We’ve been looking for an opportunity to enter the Milwaukee market and expand our customer base,” said Jeff Niesen, president of Van Horn Automotive Group. “We’ve been selling vehicles to the Milwaukee area for a number of years but haven’t had a dealership point to service those vehicles.”

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The deal marks the end of three decades in business for David Hobbs Honda, which was founded in 1987 by British racing legend David Hobbs and most recently operated by his son, Greg Hobbs. The elder Hobbs fell in love with the Milwaukee area while spending time racing in Wisconsin during the 1960s, and his passion for driving Honda vehicles later turned into a business opportunity.

“Closing the doors of David Hobbs Honda after 35 years of dedication to our employees and community is extremely difficult for the Hobbs family,” said Greg Hobbs, who served as managing director. “However, knowing the Van Horn family, their dedication to the employees and the community, makes it a lot easier and so the Hobbs family is proud to hand over the keys.”

Leading up the acquisition, Van Horn had been in the market for a Honda dealership for several years, said Neisen, noting the Japanese brand as one of the most successful and reputable import brands in the U.S. What’s more, the shared family-business values between the two dealerships was a major selling point.

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“We’re well aware of the rich history and community connection the Hobbs family has with the Glendale and the greater Milwaukee area,” he said. “Our first priority is to maintain those connections, and demonstrate that we can provide customers with the level of service they deserve.”

To that end, Van Horn Honda of Glendale will build upon David Hobbs Honda’s partnership with Milwaukee-based Horizon Home Care and Hospice Meals on Wheels program by donating $100 for every vehicle sold from March 8 through April 8.

“We currently support Fresh Meals on Wheels of Sheboygan County, so this was an easy decision to continue to support in the Milwaukee area. It’s another example of how the values of Hobbs and Van Horn align,” said Ryan Thiel, marketing director of Van Horn Automotive Group.

Van Horn now has 17 dealership locations and more than 750 employees in Wisconsin and Iowa. Eleven of those dealerships are located in southeastern Wisconsin, including Plymouth, Sheboygan, Oconomowoc, and now Glendale.

The purchase of David Hobbs Honda is Van Horn’s sixth acquisition in as many years. In March 2022, the company increased its Employee Stock Ownership Plan from 30% to 77%. An ESOP is a qualified retirement plan, granting eligible employees a portion of company stock and ownership interest.

The company was originally founded in 1966 by Joe Van Horn as a single Chevrolet dealership. In addition to its automotive dealerships, Van Horn operates a finance company, a rental vehicle division and a wholesale financial products company.

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