Anderson buys Luby franchises STILL MOVING CARS DOWNTOWN

August 13, 1994|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Sun Staff Writer

Anderson Automotive Group has taken another step in building an automotive mall in Baltimore.

The company acquired Luby Chevrolet and Geo, a 42-year-old franchise on East Monument Street, and has moved it to its cluster of dealerships at Howard and 25th streets. The acquisition, which was completed earlier this week, also includes Luby Honda.

"We're trying to be a Baltimore auto park or an auto mall," said Bruce R. Mortimer, president of Anderson, a business that already included Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Buick, Volkswagen and GMC Trucks.

As part of the acquisition, Mr. Mortimer said the company is terminating its 15-year relationship with Volkswagen. He said that Honda did not want to share facilities with the German import and he believed Honda offered greater future sales potential.

Mr. Mortimer said the addition of Chevrolet and Honda will draw more car shoppers to the area and should boost the company's sales.

He called Chevrolet the most desirable domestic franchise because of its wide assortment of products. "They have the inexpensive car, in Geo; the family sedan in Lumina and Caprice; the sports car with Camaro and Corvette and they have trucks. They've got everything except the luxury end of the market."

Luby Chevrolet dates to 1952, when the Chevy was a hump-back sedan that came only with a six-cylinder engine.

It recent years, Luby was owned by Betty L. Waghelstein, and as recently as 1990 it was ranked as the Baltimore area's second largest woman- or minority-owned business, according to a 1992 survey by the Baltimore Business Journal.

In 1990 the dealership had 75 employees with a payroll of $2.7 million and gross revenues of nearly $23 million, according to that survey.

Mrs. Waghelstein did not return calls to her office last week.

The cluster of Anderson dealerships is made up of two showrooms on 25th Street, one for Chevrolet, Geo and Oldsmobile, and a second for Pontiac, Buick, GMC Trucks and used cars. The Honda showroom and service garage is located about a half block away at 2507 N. Howard St.

Mr. Mortimer said the Anderson group "has been able to survive in the city" because of its five-acre storage lot a block from the Chevrolet and Oldsmobile showroom. The lot, with a capacity of 865 cars, allows shoppers to see a wide variety of cars offered by all of the brand names at one location.

"The big reason that most dealers moved out of the city [in the 1960s] was space," he said. "The availability of space and the price made it almost prohibitive to have a dealership in the city."

Bruce Mortimer followed his father as head of the family business. William Mortimer, a Nebraska farm boy who flew experimental planes for the Navy during World War II, got into the car business in 1949.

He was a salesman at A.D. Anderson Oldsmobile, which at that time was located in another cluster of dealerships on North Avenue between Maryland Avenue and Howard Street.

William Mortimer bought the dealership in the 1960s. He picked up the Volkswagen franchise in 1979 and acquired Jarman Pontiac and GMC trucks on 29th Street in 1987. Four years later, Pat Hays Buick on Maryland Avenue was added to the Anderson Group.

"Today, you have to offer your customers more choices," said Bruce Mortimer. "With the addition of Chevrolet and Honda we offer a lot more choices."

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