Gordie Stewart, the owner of Hoover Toyota for the past 22 years, tonight said he has sold the dealership to an automotive group based in South Carolina.
The buyer was the Hudson Automotive Group, which is based in Charleston but has at least 26 other dealerships in seven states, according to the company’s website.
Stewart’s last day on the job was Monday. He said he could not disclose the sale price due to a confidentiality agreement.
Stewart said he really had no intention of selling the dealership. Hoover Toyota just had a record year in terms of profit and was doing extremely well, he said. He had not thought he would be interested in selling the dealership for at least 10 more years, but he was approached with an offer that was too good for him to pass up, he said.
“It’s a real blessing to accept a great offer for the store. It’s just a wonderful thing,” he said.
But it is bittersweet because he’s sad to say goodbye to so many friends, some of whom have worked for him for more than 15 years, he said. Thankfully, the new owner plans to keep the remaining staff, Stewart said.
“They’re all rock stars,” he said. “It’s the best group of people I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with.”
Stewart acquired Hoover Toyota in 1999. He and his father previously had Chevrolet dealerships in Michigan and Florida and were searching for a Toyota dealership they could purchase, he said. Hoover Toyota was the only one they could find at the time that was available, he said.
He had never set foot in Alabama but flew into the Bessemer Airport to visit and, once he got to Hoover, decided the dealership would be a good purchase, he said.
At the time, Hoover Toyota was on U.S. 31 in a spot now occupied by Tameron Hyundai. Due to an agreement with Toyota, he moved the dealership to Alabama 150 in 2002, and Stewart moved from Detroit and started running it himself in 2003, he said.
Not long before, Alabama 150 had been a two-lane “pig trail,” Stewart joked, and the first few years were difficult with less traffic than was on U.S. 31. Following the widening of the highway to five lanes and more development, the dealership blossomed.
According to Stewart, Hoover Toyota grew to become the largest new car dealer in Alabama in terms of sales volume for 12 consecutive years until about 2018. Since that time, the volume at Hoover Toyota has continued to be good, but a Huntsville dealership claimed the top spot, he said.
The Hoover market has become more fragmented with the addition of new dealerships such as Hyundai and Subaru, he said.
Still, Hoover Toyota was averaging close to 250 new car sales a month before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he said. The dealership’s used car, service and parts business also has been growing, he said. “It’s been a fantastic ride.”
Stewart said he has a lot of respect for the new owner and is confident he will continue to provide great service to the community.
The Hudson Automotive Group is a family-owned business started by George Hudson in 1948 in Providence, Kentucky, according to the company’s website. The business now has at least 26 dealerships in Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio and Georgia, the website says.
The brands include Buick-GMC, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Lexus, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen, according to the website.
As for Stewart, he said he plans to focus more on a side business he has had for five to six years — a full-service ad agency called Lot 22 Media, based in Cahaba Heights.
He started the company after having a lot of success with digital media campaigns at Hoover Toyota, he said. Numerous companies, nonprofits and other organizations were contacting him, asking him to help them with campaigns, he said.
The company offers a full array of services, including consulting, photography, graphic design, artwork, video, websites and social media campaigns, he said.
“It’s really started to take off,” Stewart said.
His oldest son who just graduated from Auburn University is joining him at Lot 22 Media, he said.
He and his family have no plans to move, he said. They have lived in the Greystone Crest subdivision in Hoover for about eight years, and he and his wife still have two children at Briarwood Christian School (going into the eighth and 12th grades), he said.
He said he has five Toyotas in his driveway and plans to continue taking them to Hoover Toyota for service.
Editor’s note: This article was updated at 1:41 p.m. on June 9 to correct wording concerning the timing of the widening of Alabama 150.