LOS LUNAS — One of Valencia County’s oldest auto dealerships is expected to change hands next week.
After 18 years, Brad Francis, owner of Brad Francis Automotive Group, has decided to sell the group to Melloy Auto Group of Albuquerque, a deal targeted to close on Aug. 8.
“I want to take this opportunity to express my sincere and heartfelt gratitude to my employees, my customers and the community,” Francis said. “Together we have been able to make thousands of automotive dreams come true.”
A third generation “car guy,” Francis has owned and operated his Los Lunas dealership since 2000. Both his grandfather and father owned Chevrolet dealerships in St. Louis, Mo., and in the early 1980s, his father sold his and moved to Roswell with his then 19-year-old son.
In 1987, his father sold the dealership and Francis moved to Albuquerque, where he went to work for Ken Johns for 14 years as his general manager.
In 2000, Francis partnered with Larry Miller and they bought Casey Luna Ford and Chevrolet in Belen. The following year, they moved the dealership to Los Lunas, where it now occupies several blocks on the west side of Emilio Lopez Road.
Eight years later, Francis bought out Miller’s share of the business, and in 2012 brought in the Chrysler line after the Auge brothers in Belen let it go, creating what’s called an open point in the market.
After 40-plus years in the industry, Francis says this is the right time to do something else.
“I’ve done this all my life. My legacy, my name is ending with me. My kids aren’t interested in taking this on,” he said. “This just seemed like the right time.”
With two children still at home, Francis said he’s looking forward to spending more time with them.
“This job can be all-consuming, but I’m not ready to go lay on a beach anytime soon,” he said. “I have other things I’m looking at. I’ve got a whiteboard with some ideas.”
Francis said he will miss helping customers get into a vehicle that meets their needs, wants and their budget, as well as his daily interactions with his 110 employees.
“I’ll miss being a part of the community. Trying to do good things for the schools and charities,” he said. “Over the years, I’ve developed relationships with many that went beyond being their local car dealer. Together, we have helped support local schools, charities and first responders. I am humbled and proud at the same time of what we have accomplished together.”
The dealership regularly donated a car to Valencia High School for its car-giveaway raffle for seniors in the Renaissance program, participated in fundraisers for VHS extracurricular programs, supported local Little League programs as well as numerous other local and statewide charities.
The purchase of Brad Francis is a bit of a homecoming, said Melloy Auto Group owner Pat Melloy, since his father and uncle owned a Studebaker dealership in Belen in the late 1950s.
“We’ve been looking at Los Lunas for years and always thought it would be a fantastic market,” Melloy said. “With Brad Francis, nowhere else in New Mexico can you shop all three American brands — Ford, Chevrolet and Chrysler Dodge Ram — in one location.”
While Melloy Auto Group has Melloy Nissan and Melloy Honda in Albuquerque, those brands will stay in the Duke City.
Both Francis and Melloy said the purchase price for the Los Lunas dealership is confidential, but does include all the inventory, assets, equipment and parts.
Any current employees of Brad Francis who want to stay are welcome, Melloy said, acknowledging that a typical employee loss in these kinds of transitions is 10 to 15 percent.
“We plan on keeping most of his people. They’ve done a great job,” he said. “We will keep all the employees who want to stay with us. We are looking forward to being part of the community.”
The Melloy Auto Group has Advantage Dodge, Ram, Chrysler, Jeep, Fiat in Farmington, and in Albuquerque, Fiat of Albuquerque, Alfa Romeo of Albuquerque, Melloy Dodge, Melloy Nissan, Melloy Honda, as well as two Auto Max Truck and Car centers, one in Albuquerque and a second in Farmington, which specializes in used Dodge, Toyota, Chevrolet, Jeep and Ford vehicles.