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BENNINGTON — The town’s Honda and Toyota dealerships have come back under local ownership, and the nearby Ford/Hyundai business could soon follow suit.

Michael Coggins, who worked for more than 20 years with the Haddad Auto Group in Berkshire County, Mass., purchased the two Bennington dealerships last month from multi-state auto network Lithia Motors.

Coggins, who will serve as general manager in Bennington, said his son, Patrick, also will join him in the business, which is located on North Bennington Road, or Route 67A.

According to property records posted on the town clerk’s website, the real estate at 699-751 North Bennington Road was sold by DCH Investments Inc. to MLTA Real Estate, LLC, for $8,950,000.

Reached by phone, Coggins said Tuesday he also hopes to close on the adjacent Ford/Hyundai dealership, also owned by Lithia, next month.

‘COMMUNITY PRESENCE’

He said his primary goal is to restore an emphasis on involvement in the community, which the Medford, Ore., based Lithia had reduced in recent years.

Lithia Motors, which owns more than 200 dealerships around the country, purchased the local dealerships in 2016 from Carbone Automotive Group, which was founded in the 1920s and based in the Albany, N.Y., area.

Coggins said he plans more advertising in local news media and participation in local events and organizations.

“We will be getting involved in the town, the community and the area,” he said, adding that the sales region for the dealership has traditionally extended outside of Bennington into Berkshire County and nearby New York towns.

In recent years, he said, the dealerships were owned by a national group “that wasn’t here, that didn’t have that sense of community,” which Coggins said had been evident under the Carbone group.

“We hope to bring that back,” he said.

Coggins said that prior to leaving Haddad he was serving as general manager and partner, and he previously worked in other states.

I’m originally from Jersey,” he said, adding that he heeded the age-old advice of “go west, young man,” and lived in Denver, San Diego and elsewhere in the western states.

Coggins, 63, said he met his wife, Lorena, while in San Diego.

NEW BUILDINGS

As Coggins takes over the Honda and Toyota operations, he is moving into two buildings that were replaced recently by the former owners.

“The buildings are good to go,” he said. “They are almost brand new.”

The dealership buildings were constructed one at a time over about a two-year period. Construction involved separating the two brands – which had resided in wings of the same building — into structures on the large parcel, as well reconfiguring of parking areas.

The Ford/Hyundai dealership was opened by Carbone in 2011.

Jim Therrien writes for New England Newspapers in Southern Vermont. Email jtherrien@benningtonbanner.com

Reporter/editor

Jim Therrien reports for the three NENI newspapers in Southern Vermont. He previously worked as a reporter and editor at the Berkshire Eagle, the Bennington Banner, the Springfield (Mass.) Republican and the former North Adams Transcript.


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