University Mazda has new owner


Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 18, 2005 at 11:05 p.m.
On Monday the Jacksonville-based Scott-McRae Group took ownership of the former University Mazda auto dealership, renamed it Duval Mazda of Gainesville and is open for business at its 4025 N. Main St. location.
"We are excited about being in Gainesville," said Henry "Tip" Graham Jr., president and chief executive officer of the privately owned Scott-McRae group. Graham, who announced the acquisition on Tuesday, is a Gainesville native.
"I know what a great community it is," said 55-year-old Graham, who graduated from P.K. Yonge in 1967, the University of Florida in 1972, and the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, Birmingham, in 1975.
The Scott-McRae Group owns three dealerships in Jacksonville: its flagship Duval Ford, which opened in 1916; Duval Honda; and Duval Acura. The group also owns Tampa Honda Land and Brandon Honda in the Tampa metropolitan area. Its regional companies include Scott-McRae Advertising, Spectrum Services, U.S. Auto Credit and Matrix Data Solutions. The company employs more than 850 people in the southeastern United States, and its sales in 2004 reached $465 million, said Amy Rankin, executive vice president of Scott-McRae Advertising in Jacksonville.
No financial details about the purchase were released.
Dale Murray, formerly the general sales manager of Duval Ford, has been named president/general manager of the Gainesville dealership.
"He is in the process of reviewing applications from employees and probably will bring over some from some of the other Scott-McRae stores," Rankin said. The size of the staff at the Gainesville dealership will depend on the success of the store, she added.
The company also will be "very involved in working out what community areas we sponsor," she said, adding that such community involvement is a hallmark of the group.
In reference to former customers of University Mazda, Rankin said that those with factory warranty on their vehicles won't be affected by the ownership change.
"It's very important to us to do business in a quality manner," she added.
Thomas Burton Sappenfield, the former vice president of University Mazda, currently is awaiting sentencing in federal court on a charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. He entered a plea of guilty to the lone charge last fall. Sappenfield was among several other former dealership employees indicted last spring on various charges following a federal investigation. The indictment accused them of using false documents to obtain car loans for customers with poor credit.
Doris Chandler can be reached at (352) 374-5094 or chandld@gvillesun.com.

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