BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – One of Mahoning Valley’s oldest family-owner car dealerships will be changing hands.

Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC has agreed to sell its assets to #1 Cochran, one of the largest auto groups in the Pittsburgh area. The transaction is pending formal approval by General Motors and is anticipated to close in mid-January 2023, according to a news release from Sweeney.

Sweeney employees are not anticipated to be affected by the ownership transition, according to the company.

The Sweeney family has been selling General Motors vehicles for most of its 101 years.

The announcement about the planned sale came early Monday afternoon from Alexa Sweeney, president of Sweeney Buick GMC on Market Street in Boardman and Sweeney Chevrolet across the street.

“I’m confident that our community will embrace #1 Cochran much like they have the Sweeney brand over the past 100 years,” said Alexa Sweeney. “They were interested in our business because of our strong market position and reputation in the Mahoning Valley. We’ve known Rob Cochran for decades and are confident his family-owned business will continue to build on the relationships we’ve established with our customers, employees and the community.”

The Boardman dealership will be #1 Cochran’s first in Ohio, and the Sweeney dealership will be its largest store on day 1.

“Actually, I was kind of surprised, to be honest. It caught me off guard. I wasn’t expecting that,” said John Kufleitner, who owns the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealership up the street from the Sweeneys.

Kufleitner is aware that some of the area’s auto dealerships have changed recently, with the closing of Welsh Motors in New Springfield and the purchase of Taylor Kia by Cleveland’s Ganley Automotive Group. He says consolidation of auto dealers is real.

“You’re seeing a lot of hedge funds and investment groups go out and buy whole dealer groups, and I think there’s strength in numbers,” Kufleitner said.

Dealers are also being forced to transition to electric vehicles.

“They’re asking us to spend more money now. We just had a conference call on Wednesday and they’re looking for us to spend more money on electric,” Kufleitner said.

“I think it’s an exciting time to be a General Motors dealer because of where General Motors is going with EVs in particular,” Sweeney said on Sept. 17, 2021, when the company was celebrating 100 years in business.

Gene Hopper started Stern Motors downtown and Arthur Sweeney later took over, followed by Arthur’s son Bob, then Bob’s son Doug. The Sweeney dealership on Wick Avenue operated for 65 years before moving to Boardman in 1986. Sweeney became a General Motors dealership in 1931 and has been one ever since.

In 2017, Sweeney’s Buick GMC building was damaged by severe storms that moved through the area. Part of the building caved in, and windows and doors were blown out. The damaged building was later demolished and then rebuilt.

Sweeney’s is the area’s oldest family-owned auto dealership. If the sale is finalized, Alexa Sweeney will have been the fourth generation to run it.

“At some point, it’s the passing of the torch, right? Alexa was an outstanding dealer. I think she’s a great person. The Sweeneys are awesome people. We love them. I think maybe it was the right time for her,” Kufleitner said.

Greg Greenwood, the owner of Austintown’s Greenwood Chevrolet, had this to say about the Sweeney deal:

“Our business is definitely changing rapidly and this type of regional/national consolidation is becoming more and more common. These deals often leave a key staff or family member still in the store as a ‘lead partner’ for the consolidator for at least a period of time. Not sure how this deal will work out but we certainly wish the Sweeney family, their teammates and the incoming dealer all the best.”

Chelsea Simeon contributed to this report.