“Being the first new-car dealer operation for Dalton in the U.S., they had to kind of start from square one in terms of getting their dealer licenses, business licenses and tax ID numbers and new entities set up,” Rasmussen said. “That was all part of the process.”

Fornaca and Fenelli still own Frank Hyundai, also in National City. Fenelli said he no longer has an ownership stake in the Toyota or Subaru stores, but stayed on with Dalton as platform manager.

The Toyota dealership dates back to 1965, Fenelli said, while the Subaru store was acquired around 12 years ago.

“We had a lot of offers to the table before Dalton got to the table,” Fenelli said. “And quite frankly, we knew what we wanted and what we didn’t want. As a family-run and operated business, we were obviously concerned about the transition, making sure that we found a company that would be the right fit, right core values.”

Rodriguez-Villava declined to say whether Dalton has additional U.S. dealerships under contract to purchase, but said the group is looking at other opportunities.

“We are already looking to grow,” he said. “Obviously, we’re going to have to tune in how we cater to the market and the competitive advantages that we’re working on with Gary and the great executive team that we have [with] the Dalton platform in San Diego. This is only our first step and we’re going to continue to grow.”

Rodriguez-Villava said Dalton is not bound only to California. The group is looking at other parts of the U.S., he said, though he didn’t provide specifics.

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