Forest Lake Auto Group acquired by Morrie’s – Twin Cities

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The Forest Lake Auto Group is now owned by Morrie’s Auto. Former owner Randy Wilcox sold both dealerships in early July after 12 years in business.

In 2011, Wilcox opened Wilcox Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram on property formerly owned by auto dealer Denny Hecker, who was convicted of fraudulent bankruptcy. Soon after, Wilcox purchased the neighboring Chevrolet-Cadillac dealership from the late automotive businessman Wally McCarthy.

Wilcox also owned distribution company Bix Produce in St. Paul for 35 years before selling the company in 2015. He bought his first car dealership, Central Motors in North Branch, in 2005.

With years of business experience, Wilcox said his expertise is always in demand, but with this recent dealership sale, he hopes to be done with it.

“I’ve already received a few offers from other dealers and business owners, but I’m not interested. I’m happy to retire,” Wilcox said.

Minnetonka-based Morrie’s Auto Group has acquired 14 new locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan over the past six years, and manages more than a dozen car brands in the Upper Midwest. With the two in Forest Lake, Morrie now has 20 dealerships in Minnesota, including Mercedes-Benz of St. Paul in Maplewood and Morrie’s Inver Grove Mazda.

Consolidating auto dealerships under one company name has been a rising trend in Minnesota over the past 20 years, said Scott Lambert, president of the Minnesota Automobile Dealership Association. Lambert says multi-store operations like Morrie’s gain in efficiency when they have a wide range of brands.

But the local and family dealerships are still there. Main Motor in Anoka was established in 1919 and run by the Carlson family for 100 years. In 2020, the Mauer Auto group bought the dealership and renamed it Mauer Main Chevrolet. The Mauer Auto Group was started in 2010 by Bill Mauer, brother of former Twins player Joe Mauer, and also owns Mauer Chevrolet and Mauer Buick GMC in Inver Grove Heights.

Auto sales have recently slumped due to a lack of inventory, but dealerships have stayed afloat by cutting costs, according to Lambert. He says the dealership market has generally been stable over the past few years, with no major increases or decreases in ownership changes.

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