Sudbury dealership diversifies into boat and canoe business

Palladino Automotive Group (PAD) has diversified its holdings buying a landmark boat and canoe business in its home base of Sudbury.

Palladino announced this week the acquisition of Sudbury Boat and Canoe, which has been operating for more than 100 years.

PAD President and Chief Executive Officer Vince Palladino said the company has been in the recreational business in the past owning and operating an RV company in Sudbury for about seven years. He said the company also owned a marina business for a while in Gravenhurst. He said when the opportunity to acquire Sudbury Boat & Canoe was presented to him by an automotive broker, it made sense.

“We’ll always continue to look for intelligent, diversification plays, and there’s a lot of parallels between the industry and the auto industry, so we feel like there’s a fit there,” Palladino said. “You’re running parts and service departments and new and used departments and business offices.

“Certainly with COVID and lifestyle choices changing for a lot of people, especially in (Northern Ontario) with boats, ATVs, marine quads and snowmobiles, it’s a pretty active lifestyle community, so I think it makes sense in a lot of areas.”

He said he knew the former operator and somewhat of an understanding of the business.

“We like what we saw and think we see areas of opportunity where we can improve and grow it,” said Palladino. “It’s an industry that has matured a lot over the last decade and certainly over the last two to three years. Both consumers and operators alike are starting to realize these lifestyle choices are probably there to stay for a lot of people in the right communities. 

“I don’t think I’d be buying this business in downtown Toronto, but certainly in Sudbury it makes a lot of sense.”

Patrick Regan, who is the General Manager of Palladino Group BMW, has been appointed GM of the boat and canoe business. Palladino said his company will probably continue to look at opportunities outside of the automotive business.

He said FFUN Auto, which is based in Saskatoon and recently expanded its operations from western Canada into Ontario with the acquisition of Forest City Mazda store, is the only automotive group he knows of that is involved in the recreational lifestyle business. Coincidentally, the seller of the Mazda store was the Palladino Group. FFUN owns a Harley Davidson store in Sudbury and a total of 29 automotive dealerships.

“We’re certainly not the only two in the country that are venturing outside of automotive,” said Palladino. “There’s a lot of Honda power equipment dealers as well. I don’t think it’s totally uncommon. In the Sudbury community when a business is worth looking at and has any relation to what we do, I think we’re going to be players.”

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