Even with 51 locations and 26 manufacturers concentrated in cities across the southern mid-Atlantic, North Carolina-based car dealer Flow Automotive has always focused on “local scale.”
Now, with a recent Kia acquisition in Charlottesville, Flow is at the tail end of scaling up in Charlottesville, bringing its dealership count to 11 franchises in the area.
“We understand these communities, we feel we understand these cultures,” said Eric Flow, president and chief operating officer of Flow Automotive, which owns dealerships in Virginia and North Carolina. “Trying to achieve a certain level of scale allows us to invest in the community and customer experience.”
Flow Automotive acquired the Kia dealership on Pantops July 10 from Jim Price Auto Group, which also owns a Chevrolet and Hyundai dealership on U.S. 29 North. The group first expanded into Charlottesville in 2003 and acquired five additional brands in April.
Eric Flow is no stranger to Charlottesville, having graduated from the University of Virginia to join the ranks of his parents and sisters at the family business. After getting married, he lived in Charlottesville for some time with his wife, another UVa alum.
“What I really like about Charlottesville is its got a small town feel with world-class resources,” Eric Flow said. While the restaurants, art and businesses are robust, so too is the economy, which Eric Flow said will grant the automotive group “staying power.”
“The economy could go one way or the other,” Eric Flow said, but cornerstones in the local economy, such as UVa and the area’s renowned hospitals, don’t. “Those institutions don’t disappear overnight.”
The automotives market isn’t without its challenges, he noted, Charlottesville included. A halted supply chain, yearlong waits for new cars and skyrocketing used car rates is still within recent memory, and automotive groups today still face a “unique set of challenges.”
But good operators have figured out how to take care of customers; and that’s Eric Flow’s goal in Charlottesville.
“When it comes to Charlottesville stores, we’re really focused on helping customers to build long term relationships — do business the right way,” Eric Flow said.
Flow Automotive will continue to look for opportunities in the region, he said. But for now, the group is simply excited to have a bigger presence in the city.
“More than anything, with respect to Charlottesville, we think its a vibrant, wonderful community filled with great people,” he said.