Virginia dealer Dan Banister has expanded into a new state and added a new brand with his latest acquisition.
Banister acquired Sheehy Ford of Marlow Heights in Maryland on April 13. Terms were not disclosed. The store has been renamed Banister Ford of Marlow Heights.
The Ford store is the third dealership for Banister Automotive. The group also owns Banister Nissan of Chesapeake and Banister Nissan of Norfolk, both located in southeastern Virginia.
Banister said he first met Ford Motor Co. representatives more than 12 years ago through his involvement in the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers.
“Ever since, we’ve been trying to find the right opportunity for me,” he said.
When the Maryland Ford store became available, those reps contacted Banister about a purchase, he said.
“When they brought this one to me — I mean, I know the area, I’ve operated dealerships in this area — I thought it was a perfect opportunity to own a Ford store,” said Banister, who did not use a broker.
The Ford dealership opened in 1966 and was Sheehy Auto Stores’ first dealership.
“We were pleased to be able to work with Dan to become a Ford dealer, and wish him the best,” Vince Sheehy, president of Sheehy Auto Stores, said in a statement.
Sheehy Auto Stores of Fairfax, Va., ranks No. 44 on Automotive News‘ list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., with retail sales of 19,441 new vehicles in 2020.
Banister, who played college basketball at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, did not envision a career in automotive retail. His dream was to play in the NBA. His backup plan was federal law enforcement.
“I got in the car business right out of college, and I was playing in a couple different leagues hoping to get into the NBA,” Banister told Automotive News. “I just was using the car business as a temporary source of income.”
But his automotive retail career progressed. He went from sales rep to F&I manager to F&I director and then general sales manager. In 1997, he became general manager at a dealership in Rock Hill, S.C., and later joined Victory Automotive Group in Chesapeake, Va.
Banister and a partner purchased the Chesapeake Nissan store in 2010. In 2015, Banister and the same partner acquired the Norfolk Nissan store. In 2017, Banister bought out his partner at both stores.
“My goal is to really grow the organization so the people that are with me can grow,” said Banister, a nominee for the 2021 Time Dealer of the Year Award. “I do, on my bench right now, have a couple more people that are ready to run stores. I am looking to acquire additional dealerships, but it has to be the right opportunity.”