Greenbriar Continues Auto Service Build Up

GB Auto Service, a portfolio company of Greenbriar Equity Group, has acquired sister companies, Sun Devil Auto and Sun Auto Service (together Sun Devil Auto).

Sun Devil Auto was founded by Joel Higginbotham in 1978 and operates 32 locations across Phoenix, Arizona; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Austin, Texas. In 2005, Mr. Higginbotham’s son Tom was named president of Sun Devil Auto.

GB Auto is a provider of vehicle maintenance, repair, and tire replacement services with approximately 132 retail locations in multiple markets including San Diego, the Inland Empire (the region east of Los Angeles including Riverside and San Bernardino counties); Las Vegas, Nevada; and Dallas, Austin, and Houston, Texas. The company, led by CEO Frank Kneller and headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, operates under the BRAKEmax, Tire Works, Ramona and Evans Tire brands.

“We are excited about joining forces with the Sun Auto team,” said Mr. Kneller. “Sun Auto has spent decades building its business into one of the most recognizable brands in the Southwest through exceptional customer service and thoughtful business practices, establishing a culture we truly value and that fits well with our organization. We look forward to investing in Sun Auto’s growth to continue its terrific success, including the addition of more than a dozen new greenfield locations in the very near future.”

The buy of Sun Devil Auto expands GB Auto to over 160 tire and automotive service facilities. “The combination of Sun Devil and GB Auto enhances the strategic market position of both companies and Greenbriar is a value-added partner that is uniquely suited to help further build the combined platform,” said Tom Higginbotham. “This is a very exciting time for our organization, and I look forward to remaining involved during this next phase of growth.”

GB Auto began with Greenbriar’s acquisition in 2017 of Arizona-based Brake Max Car Care (15 stores). Ten add-ons followed including California-based Ramona Tire (17 stores); Nevada-based Tire Works Total Car Care (15 stores); San Diego-based Evans Tire & Service (17 stores); Austin-based Lamb’s Tire & Automotive (18 stores); Dallas-based Driver’s Edge (11 stores); and Phoenix-based Wilhelm Automotive & Tire (11 stores).

“The automotive aftermarket is a key area of focus for Greenbriar due to its size, channel structure and defensive characteristics, which create a diverse set of investment opportunities,” said Matt Burke, a director at Greenbriar. “This acquisition is the twelfth for GB Auto over the last two years and reflects the continued execution of our strategy to build the leading independent aftermarket service provider in the Western U.S. We have great respect for the business the Higginbothams have built, and we are thrilled to welcome Tom and his team into the fold.”

Greenbriar invests from $75 million to $150 million of equity per transaction in businesses that have enterprise values from $100 million to $1 billion. Sectors of interest include advanced manufacturing, aerospace & defense, automotive aftermarket, business, and industrial services, specialty distribution, logistics, and rail. Greenbriar was founded in 1999 and is based in Rye, New York.

The vehicle aftermarket group of Capstone Headwaters was the financial advisor to Sun Devil Auto on this transaction.

Private Equity Professional | July 14, 2020

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