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I was heading to St. Francis yacht club yesterday and I see a helicopter running along side of me. I figured it was a FLW camera crew getting some footage. It dropped low and tracked along side of me for about a mile. As I near St Francis it peels off and lands on a yacht anchored behind St Francis. Yea....It's that big. This is not small helocopter. The yacht is the 164 foot $30M Vango which when built in 2006 was one of the top 100 in the world. I can't find any info on who owns it as it seems to be a secret, but if your in the area it is worth a peek. My thought is, this is not one of the FLW anglers.
Owner: Larry VanTuyl. Check out what this guy owns:
VT Inc. is the largest privately owned car dealership group in the nation and the largest privately held company based in the Kansas City area.
With a media-shy founder and a focus on the Sunbelt, however, VT keeps it on the QT around these parts.
Founded with a single Kansas City dealership 50 years ago, Cecil Van Tuyl's $5.9 billion company oversees about half its 60 dealerships from the second floor of a low-rise office building in Merriam.
But VT has operated only one area dealership, Van Chevrolet Cadillac in the Northland, since 1992.
At that time, CFO James Thayer said, the company sold 12 other area dealerships to Superior Automotive Group and turned its focus south.
Cecil Van Tuyl's son, Co-CEO Larry Van Tuyl, oversees 19 dealerships in Arizona, seven in Georgia, three in California and four in the Dallas area from offices in Phoenix.
With 17 more Texas dealerships supervised from its Merriam offices, VT sells multiple makes in 10 states -- six of them in the Sunbelt.
According to Ward's Dealer Business magazine, the top eight U.S. megadealers last year operated 51 percent of their 957 total locations in six Sunbelt states -- Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas.
"With all of the population and business growth, there tend to be more plentiful and higher-paying jobs there," said James Perkins, CEO of Hendrick Automotive Group in Charlotte, N.C., which now owns nine of VT's former Kansas City dealerships. "You've also got a much younger population moving to that part of the country, so the economics seem to work a little better."
That contention is borne out by the 2005 Ward's Dealer 500 list, which lists VT's Camelback Toyota dealership in Phoenix at No. 44, with $187.6 million in 2004 revenue.
Van Chevrolet Cadillac in Kansas City ranked No. 386, with $83.7 million in revenue.
Perkins said that like Hendrick Automotive Group, VT was drawn to the booming Sunbelt by the availability of open dealership points from manufacturers.
"In this business," he said, "the one thing most of us really crave is an open point you don't have to buy from another dealer."
Perkins said that Cecil Van Tuyl's reputation in the industry prompts manufacturers to give him extra consideration for such opportunities.
"Once when I was making a speech, I was asked who the best car dealer in America was," Perkins said, "and I said without hesitation 'Cecil Van Tuyl.'"
He said "Mr. Van" linked success to customer satisfaction and started surveying customers at least 15 years before the industry embraced the Customer Satisfaction Index.
VT, which has added 19 dealerships since 1999 and experienced 4.5 percent revenue growth last year, also is adept at maximizing dealership revenue.
In 2004, VT made $4.3 billion from the sale of 188,814 new and used cars at 56 dealerships, according to the Ward's Megadealer 100 list. Making up the remaining $1.6 billion were fleet sales, wholesale business, service, body work, parts and accessories, and financing and insurance.
The Van Tuyls founded their insurance business, Mechanical Protection Plan, in 1979 "because many of our customers had purchased service agreements from other companies -- only to be mistreated," according to VT's Web site.
A corporate staff of about 15 works at the Merriam headquarters, Thayer said, and the insurance subsidiary employs about 150 there. Nationwide, VT employs 9,500.
What a beaut!!! Looks like a pretty ticklish landing pad for the chopper - not something I'd want to try with any seas to speak of.
Some folks have obscene wealth beyond comprehension... true case of have's and have-not's.
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