Morgan Auto Group has added another high-performing Florida dealership to its portfolio in a record-setting purchase.

The dealership group acquired Hollywood Kia in Hollywood, Fla., from Joe Levy and Steve Gutstein, according to Haig Partners, which represented the seller in the transaction.

In a news release, Haig, citing Kia executives, said the sale represented the highest blue sky value ever paid for a Kia dealership.

Hollywood Kia’s 1,582 new Kia sales through May ranks second nationally among Kia stores. Haig said it was also No. 2 in new Kia sales for 2022 and 2023, and was named to the Kia President’s Club for the past four years.

Gutstein, who has served as general manager since 2019, will remain with the dealership in that capacity.

“Brett Morgan, our CEO, and I are pleased that Steve Gutstein will be joining our team to help Hollywood Kia reach even greater heights.” Morgan Auto Group chairman Larry Morgan said. “We are big believers in the South Florida market, as evidenced by our recent acquisitions of some of the top Toyota, Honda and BMW dealerships in the U.S.”

The purchase of Hollywood Kia gives Morgan Auto Group 77 dealerships, which it said makes it the largest dealer group in Florida.

Levy began selling vehicles as a college student in 1991, selling reconditioned mopeds to classmates who complained about long walks to class in the Florida heat. After college, he sold various types of used equipment before acquiring Hollywood Kia, which was selling fewer than eight new units per month and losing more than a million dollars per year.

To increase profitability, Levy added pre-owned work trucks, lawnmowers and other equipment to the inventory. The dealership really took off when Gutstein joined as a partner and GM in 2019.

“It was a pleasure for our family to own Hollywood Kia for the past 16 years,” Levy said, “but we have decided to focus our efforts on real estate development. The auto industry is becoming a more complex business where companies like Morgan Auto Group will thrive in the future.

“Larry ‘Captain’ Morgan and I became friends during this process, and I know they will take good care of our people. My partner, Steve Gutstein, will be staying on to continue to run the dealership, and together, they will be a dream team for Kia.”

Haig Partners president Alan Haig said the dealership’s South Florida location played a big part in the record-setting value of the transaction, noting that through the combination of population growth, climate, low taxes and business-friendly laws, “dealerships in South Florida have become extremely valuable.”

“In January of this year, we advised on the sale of the nine dealerships in South Florida owned by Vista Motors and South Motors, which we believe set record-high values for BMW and Honda dealerships,” Haig said. “Last summer, we advised on the sale of Al Hendrickson Toyota, which we believe set a record high value for any dealership ever sold at that time. … Buyers have confidence that dealerships will continue to provide an attractive return on investment thanks to their diversified business model, which brings healthy profits in almost all economic environments.”