Lithia Motors Sells 14 Cars the Year It Opens in 1946

May 22, 2014

 The first year after Walt DeBoer started Lithia Motors in Ashland, Ore., in 1946, he sold 14 cars. Today’s sales are measured in billions of dollars.

When DeBoer died in 1968, his 25-year-old son, Sid, took over the business.  By the 1990s, the business had grown to five stores and 19 franchises in Southern Oregon.  That’s when DeBoer decided on a strategy of buying dealerships in small towns he knew well and applying his techniques to increase sales.  At the same time, he diversified westward and used an equity offering to raise funds instead of  increasing  unpredictable bank debt.  In 1996, the company’s stock offering raised $25 million for his expansion plans.   By 2000, the company’s dealerships numbered 40. Ten years after the public offering, Lithia Motors owned 94 car dealerships in 13 states and was the eighth-largest car dealer in the country. The choice of relying on equity, not debt, proved wise during the 2008 great recession.With dealerships offering multiple brands throughout the Pacific Northwest, California, Texas, and other states, Lithia’s annual sales exceeded $4 billion in 2013. Today the company named after Ashland’s Lithia water and headquartered in Medford employs more than 5,000 employees.  
  Sources: Brooks, Oakley. "Lithia Motors: the Art of the Deal." Oregon Business Apr. 2006. Web. 19 Apr. 2014. Battistella, Edwin. "Lithia Motors." Oregon Encyclopedia. Portland State University, 2014. Web. 19 Apr. 2014.  Stiles, Greg. "Lithia Reports Record Profits." Mail Tribune 20 Feb. 2014 [Medford, Ore.] . Web. 19 Apr. 2014.