Goldman Sachs – Jane and Bill Fox selling Auburn car dealerships; ‘It’s time to pass the torch’
Syracuse, N.Y. — Bill and Jane Fox, the brother and sister team that has been part of the Central New York auto dealer scene for nearly 50 years, are selling their three dealerships in the Auburn area.
The siblings have reached an agreement to sell their Fox Honda, Toyota Subaru and Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram stores to Jonathan Sobel, a former partner in Goldman Sachs who owns several dealerships in New York City, the Hamptons and Princeton, New Jersey.
The sale is expected to close on Monday, the couple told The Post-Standard | syracuse.com on Friday.
Their Sharon Chevrolet dealership on Route 31 in Clay is not included in the sale. The siblings said they plan to sell that dealership to Mike Carrow, a longtime Fox employee and current sales director, over several years.
Sobel will hire the Auburn dealerships’ 275 employees, and longtime Fox employee Bob May will manage the three dealerships for him, the Foxes said.
The sales agreement gives Sobel the right to use the Fox name on the dealerships for up to four years, they said.
Asked why they are selling, Bill Fox replied, “We’re old.” Bill is 79 and Jane is 75.
“We’ve had a great ride,” he said. “Not every day is the same in the retail car business. Overall, we’ve had a wonderful career. It’s time to pass the torch. That doesn’t mean we know what we’re going to do because we don’t have a yacht and we don’t play golf.”
The siblings got their start in the business as children when they helped clean cars for their father, a used-car wholesaler.
“Jane and I were raised cleaning cars,” Bill said. “It wasn’t a very glorious or glamorous existence, but we didn’t have a lot of money and that was what we did.”
Jane bought their first dealership, a small Chevrolet dealership in Weedsport, in 1976 from a man their father knew.
At the time, Bill was practicing law in Syracuse. In 1980, he and his sister bought a second dealership, a Cadillac store, in Auburn.
“I took a leave of absence from practicing law,” Bill said. “I thought I was going to stay here a couple of months, but I haven’t gone back yet. They probably don’t want me back.”
Over the years, the brother and sister have bought and sold other dealerships, owning 13 at one time or another. Jane is the best known of the two because she has appeared in all the dealerships’ television ads.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought many changes to the auto industry, among them a shift toward online sales. But Bill said the pandemic played no role in the decision to sell.
“The retail auto industry was a beneficiary of Covid,” he said. “People had some extra money. Interest rates are almost non-existent. And public transportation is not something everybody wants to do during Covid. So retail automotive sales have been as good as you can hope for.”
Rick Moriarty covers business news and consumer issues. Got a tip, comment or story idea? Contact him anytime: Email | Twitter | Facebook | 315-470-3148