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Campbell River’s Steve Marshall Ford Group expands into the United States

Acquires two Ford dealerships in Hawaii
Campbell River is where the now-international Steve Marshall Group of automotive dealerships first started. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror

Campbell River’s Steve Marshall Group is in the process of integrating two recently-purchased Ford dealerships in Hawaii into their operation.

The acquisition of Orchid Isle Ford in Hilo and Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii is the first expansion into the United States for the Steve Marshall Group and marks a significant milestone.

“We’re thrilled to embark on this exciting journey into the U.S. market with the acquisition of Orchid Isle Ford in Hilo and Kona,” said Steve Marshall, president at the Steve Marshall Group. “We are committed to upholding the legacy of these esteemed dealerships while introducing our signature customer-centric approach and innovative automotive solutions to the residents of Hawaii.”

This first entry into a U.S. market is a big step for an automotive dealership that started in Campbell River in 1966. The group’s founder and president, Steve Marshall, is known for breaking new ground after being the youngest dealer owner in Ford history when he started his first store when he was only 19 – a distinction he still holds today. The Steve Marshall Group (SMG) is now 11 dealerships strong, with additional operations in body shops and detailing facilities.

The Orchid Isle Ford dealerships are renowned for their dedication to customer satisfaction and high-quality service and are perfectly aligned with the values and standards upheld by the Steve Marshall Group, a statement from the Group says.

“It looked like it was a great fit,” said Karl Ebdrup, SMG Chief Executive Officer. “It was a family-owned dealership on the Big Island and it really fit with our kind of feel, being family-owned as well.”

The acquisitions, which were concluded in the beginning of May, continue a growth trend for the SMG which has expanded from a group of operations on Vancouver Island to include dealerships in the Lower Mainland and the Interior of B.C.

Ebdrup said they started looking into expanding into the United States over a year ago and were actually working on a deal for a site in Washington. That deal didn’t come together but their broker then introduced them to the opportunity in Hawaii.

The Orchid Isle operation is their largest volume store to date and getting the deal over the line took a bit more work than acquiring another Canadian dealership would have.

“It was a whole different animal trying to get into the U.S.,” Ebdrup said.

There was a lot of red tape and less familiarity with banking laws in the U.S. than with Canadian laws. So it took almost 12 months to complete the deal. Now the work involves integrating the American dealership into a now-international operation. Personnel from the Steve Marshall Group have travelled to Hawaii to oversee those operations.

“We’re going to standardize all the policies and procedures that we have in Canada there as well,” Ebdrup said.

Meanwhile, the Steve Marshall Group continues to look at opportunities to grow both on Vancouver Island and in the United States.

“It depends on what comes available but we are definitely still in growth mode,” Ebdrup said.


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Alistair Taylor

About the Author: Alistair Taylor

I have been editor of the Campbell River Mirror since 1989. Our team takes great pride in serving our community.
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