Vitulli Buys Harley Dealership

Clark Vitulli is back in business, following his purchase with a partner of one of the oldest Harley-Davidson dealerships in the country: Harley-Davidson of St. Augustine in Florida. Vitulli is a Dealernews columnist and founder of America's PowerSports (APS), the second-largest dealership group in North America.

Vitulli and partner Allen Good closed on the purchase of the 61-year-old store Aug. 20. Terms were not disclosed.

The 16,000-sq.-ft. facility sits on about two acres near I-95 on Florida State Road 16 between Jacksonville and Daytona. The nearest Harley dealerships are three stores owned by the same family in Jacksonville and one megastore near Daytona owned by Bruce Rossmeyer.

The dealership sold about 250 new units and 50 used units last year and is on track to match that performance this year, Vitulli tells Dealernews. He declined to provide revenue figures for the store, but it's estimated that annual revenues are in excess of $9 million.

The Florida connection for Vitulli is a strong one. He grew up in Palm Beach, went to school at the University of Florida and got his first job with Chrysler in Jacksonville. Subsequently, he worked for Chrysler in Tampa, Miami and Orlando. While at Mark III in Ocala, FL, he served on the Florida governor's "Council of 100" key business leaders in the state.

"It's a homecoming," says Vitulli. "I know Florida very, very well." Vitulli commutes to his family home in Nashville, but maintains a residence in St. Augustine. He serves as the co-owner and dealer operator, and Good handles administration. Good is a CPA and has his MBA from the Wharton School. He served as the VP-finance/business development for APS, where he worked with Vitulli and headed APS' dealership acquisition efforts for three years.

Vitulli has looked at more than 20 dealerships for possible investment since leaving APS in March 2006. He liked the dealership operation in St. Augustine, but he liked the market opportunity even more. "It's an excellent market area, just 45 minutes north of the motorcycle Mecca of Bike Week and Biketoberfest. There are a lot of opportunities for volume and profitable growth, and with the solid team that's already here, we believe there are opportunities for improvement in every department, from new and used sales to service and parts to MotorClothes and F&I."

Is this the first in a series of acquisitions for the Vitulli-Good team? Perhaps, but there is not a specific plan for it. "I've done the zero-to-17 thing," says Vitulli, referring to development of APS from start-up to 17 stores. "That was very enjoyable and it was a great experience, but we have no intention of making this another APS."