JAMES K. DOBBS
James K. Dobbs, 27, used a $25,000 loan to open his first dealership with Horace Hull, selling Fords from a modest brick building at 600 Madison Ave.
In just three years, the dealership was pulling gross sales of $1.25 million. But despite the quick success, Dobbs decided to sell the business in 1928 for $250,000 - just months before the stock market crash of 1929. The Great Depression wiped out the new owners in short order.
Dobbs purchased the business back after the dealership had been repossessed.
Dobbs and Hull invest in the Jack Sprat Corp., a small chain of hamburger stands. When the directors at the company voted to put managers on straight salary, Dobbs decided to form Hull-Dobbs Houses, a cottage-type restaurant to compete against Jack Sprat, and put the managers on incentive-based compensation plan, which at that time was not prevalent.
The tactic worked. Dobbs wound up building 50 Hull-Dobbs Houses and eventually sold them to Jack Sprat.
DOBBS HOUSE INC.
James Dobbs was preparing to fly on a business trip when he learned that the stewardess for the flight was sick. With no one there to prepare or serve meals, Dobbs volunteered to do it himself.
The experience impressed upon him the potential of airline food service, and by 1962, what had begun as a favor to his fellow passengers was now Dobbs Houses Inc., the largest independent airline catering service in the world.
Dobbs sold the business in 1966 to Beech-Nut Lifesavers, Inc
Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the government froze new car inventories.
Hull-Dobbs Enterprises moved quickly to borrow $6.5 million to buy up as many new and used cars as it could - more than 3,000 - and stored them all over the U.S.
After the war, almost nobody had new cars to sell to the returning GIs because all the factories had been converted for the war effort - but Dobbs did.
DOBBS FLEET LEASING
In 1951, Dobbs started the automotive leasing company Dobbs Fleet Leasing as a supplement to the dealership business. The company provided fleet management services on a nationwide basis to companies with fleets of up to 500 vehicles.
"The fleet leasing business further entrenched the family's commitment to business customers and original manufacturers
LOOKING TO EXPAND
Hull-Dobbs was looking to expand, but Ford and GM dealerships weren't selling, so the team decided to take a chance with a pair of little known Japanese brands: Honda and Toyota.
As fate would have it, by 1974 the country was in a full-fledged oil crisis, and demand for the smaller, more fuel-efficient cars from Japan surged.
A wave that continues to this day.
PREMIER DISTRIBUTING CORPORATION
The family purchased Premier Distributing Corporation, an Anheuser-Busch beer distributorship in six New Mexico cities.
In the 40 years of Dobbs ownership, PDC grew the Anheuser Busch market share from 26% to over 60% through its long-term strategic partnership with the manufacturer.
The Dobbs family sold PDC to Hensley Beverage Corporation in May 2023.
UNISON HEALTH PLANS
The Dobbs team made a small investment to start Unison Health Plans (then called Three Rivers), a Pennsylvania-based Medicaid health maintenance organization. HMOs were still a novelty at the time, but coming on the heels of a recession, cash-strapped states were looking to outside contractors to drive costs down while growing patient rolls.
By 2008, HMOs were ubiquitous, and Unison was responsible for about 350,000 lives in five states. Revenues exploded from zero to more than $1 billion.
Dobbs sold Unison to United Health Group in 2008 in an all-cash deal.
DOBBS AUTOMOTIVE GROUP SOLD
Shortly after the HMO business took off, Dobbs Automotive Group sold its 22 dealerships to AutoNation for $200 million in stock, exiting the retail business that had shaped the family for more than 80 years.
At the time, Dobbs was the third-largest automotive retailer in the U.S.
STRATEGIC BEHAVIORAL HEALTH
Dobbs Management Service made an investment to start-up Strategic Behavioral Health, a chain of behavioral health hospitals based out of Memphis.
By 2013, SBH was Memphis Business Journal's Fastest Growing Private Company, with gross sales of more than $83 million.
Today, the company operates 10 hospitals in six states across the country and is adding 1-2 each year.
POTTER ELECTRIC SIGNAL LLC & DYK AUTOMOTIVE LLC
In 2008, Dobbs Management Service purchased a minority interest in Potter Electric Signal LLC, a fire and security control company based out of St. Louis, MO. Potter designs, manufactures, and distributes sprinkler monitoring, security, and fire alarm equipment to customers across the globe.
In 2008, Dobbs Management Service purchased DYK Automotive LLC, an automotive aftermarket parts distribution based out of Memphis, TN. In 2009, DYK acquired Keltner, an automotive distributer specializing in oil and based out of Springfield, MO. In 2012, the company merged with Twinco Romax, adding manufacturing capabilities and moving the headquarters to Medina, MN. In 2016, DYK was merged with AAHC and the controlling ownership sold to the Sterling Group.
Dobbs Management Service retained a minority interest in the company.
FRENKEL & COMPANY
In 2010, Dobbs Management service purchased a majority interest in Frenkel & Company, a New York based insurance brokerage.
Founded in 1878, Frenkel has grown into an international brokerage with offices in New York, New Jersey, Boston, and California.
The Dobbs Family sold Frenkel in 2017 to the San Francisco based insurance brokerage and employee benefits consulting firm EPIC.
DOBBS TRUCK GROUP
In 2014, Dobbs Management Service purchased a majority interest in Western Peterbilt and Western Truck Center, collectively the Dobbs Truck Group.
Dobbs Truck Group is a full service retailer of Peterbilt, Volvo, and Mack new and used equipment, parts and service with rental, leasing and financing solutions.
Today, Dobbs Truck Group maintains 26 locations in 7 states.
In November 2017, the Dobbs Family acquired seven John Deere Construction and Forestry dealerships in Central & South Florida from Nortrax, a subsidiary of Deere & Co.
Headquartered in Tampa, the Dobbs Equipment Group sells and supports John Deere’s extensive line of Construction and Forestry Equipment and Compact Construction Equipment.
In 2021, Dobbs Equipment was awarded “Dealer of the Year” by John Deere Construction and Forestry.
DOBBS PETERBILT EXPANDS
In 2017, the Dobbs family purchased a majority interest in Peterbilt Truck Centers, which operated 6 dealership locations in Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana.
Since the acquisition, these facilities have been upgraded, expanded and re-branded under the Dobbs Peterbilt family of dealerships. Along with new and used Peterbilt trucks, the company offers a full range of parts and service solutions.
The Dobbs family is excited to grow the Peterbilt brand in our hometown of Memphis as well as the historically significant truck markets of Little Rock, Jackson, and Shreveport.
In 2018, Dobbs Management acquired a minority interest in Behold Home.
Through a partnership with Pittco Capital Partners and CEO Lyle Harris, the Dobbs family acquired and merged Behold Home and Washington Furniture Sales. Behold is a manufacturer and distributor of stationary upholstered and import motion furniture. The company occupies over 1 million sq ft of manufacturing and distribution space across two facilities in Northern Mississippi and is supported by over 350 employees.
In late 2020, Behold purchased a third facility in Amory, MS in order to support the growing needs of the business. After extensive upgrades, the new facility will begin production in early 2021.
In late 2019, the Dobbs family purchased a majority interest in DCG ONE with the transaction closing January 2020.
The Dobbs family partnered with Clavis Partners and the existing owners to recapitalize the business. DCG ONE is a leader in providing strategic marketing and creative agency services, business systems integrations and high quality print and fulfillment execution. The company is headquartered in Seattle and services numerous Fortune 500 customers.
DCG ONE continues to expand its nationwide footprint, services offering and ever-growing customer base.
DISASTER RESOURCE GROUP
In 2020, the Dobbs family purchased a majority interest in Disaster Resource Group, LLC.
Founded in 2003 by current CEO Wayne Stabiler, DRG provides turnkey logistics services to assist utility clients with recovery efforts after hurricanes and other natural disasters.
DRG has evolved to provide a suite of services including damage assessment and technical services to address the growing needs of our customers.
In 2020, the Dobbs family formed Sciath UAS to invest in leading companies in the ISR space.
Sciath UAS closed on OWT Global in October of 2020, its first acquisition. OWT Global was founded in 2012 with the goal of becoming the nation's premier technical services provider for the Department of Defense. OWT has roughly 70 employees (96% veterans) who have extensive experience supporting the Special Operations and Intelligence Communities.
Sciath UAS is actively seeking new platform investments and continues to focus on building a leading end to end ISR platform as a Service Solutions Company.
CLICK HERE DIGITAL
In August 2021, the Dobbs Family acquired Click Here Publishing dba Click Here Digital.
Acquired in partnership with Clavis Capital, Click Here Digital is a premier digital advertising agency based in Baton Rouge, LA.
With over three decades of experience, Click Here offers customers a high-touch, full service experience.
DOBBS EQUIPMENT SOUTHEAST
In October 2022, the Dobbs Equipment Group expanded when the Dobbs Family acquired 18 additional dealership locations from Flint Equipment in Georgia, South Carolina and lower Alabama.
Headquartered in Tampa, Dobbs Equipment also represents ancillary product lines for construction, forestry and road building support including Cementech, Leeboy, Topcon, and The Wirtgen Group.
The Dobbs Family is excited to expand the Dobbs Equipment Group network of dealerships and grow the John Deere brand in the Southeast US.
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