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AutoStream Car Care Acquires 6th Location

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Rick Levitan and Doug Grills have acquired a 44-year-old tire and automotive business in Baltimore, Md., to expand their network of AutoStream Car Care locations.

Convenience Retailing LLC, dba AutoStream Car Care, purchased Brentwood Automotive from Ed Nemphos, the founder of the Baltimore business. It becomes the sixth location of the AutoStream Car Care chain.

Art Blumenthal LLC managed the marketing and ultimate sale of the business.

Brentwood Automotive started as an import shop, and eventually grew into servicing both imported and domestic vehicles. Fifteen years ago the business expanded again and began selling tires — with brands including Michelin, BFGoodrich, Uniroyal, Goodyear, Kelly, Dunlop, Bridgestone, Firestone, Continental, Cooper, Fuzion, Hankook, Kumho, Nitto and Yokohama.

The business was based on offering honest service and expertise, and it resulted in more than 3,500 active and loyal customers, including many second- and third-generation families.

AutoStream Car Care owners and business partners Rick Levitan and Doug Grills acquired both the Brentwood Automotive business and associated real estate. AutoStream Car Care has five other locations in the Baltimore and Howard County region.

Former Brentwood Automotive owner Ed Nemphos said, “I had reached a point after so many years of running the business of wanting to be relieved of the day-to-day pressures, but that didn’t mean I wanted to go home and lie on the couch.

"I also did not want my business to be gobbled up by a huge chain where customers and employees are sometimes treated just as numbers. It was of utmost importance to me that my customers and employees be taken care of well by a new owner. Some of my customers have grown old with me. Recently, a customer told me that she was in the process of decluttering her home files and came across a 1976 Brentwood Auto repair order! That kind of long-term loyalty is tough to walk away from.

"In addition, my son still works at the location as a technician and I wanted him to be treated well as an employee. With all that in mind, the new owners agreed to have me stay onboard for as long as I wish to assist in the transition. Ultimately, my wife and I would like to do some traveling. For many years, it was tough to take much time off from the business to do that. But now we will be able to.”

Neither Levitan nor Grills has an automotive service background. Levitan said, “Rather than being auto service technicians who eventually started our own business, we both developed powerful business disciplines working as executives for one of the world’s major oil and gas corporations.

"Those foundations provided us the business savvy and abilities to focus on serving customers and developing marketing plans, while enlisting the help of auto service professionals to cover the technical side of the equation. For instance, our Director of Operations is David Askwith, who is a certified Automotive Training Institute service advisor.

Our entrepreneurial journey over the past 21 years has led us from gas stations with convenience stores to our focus on the tire and automotive service business. That’s because we realized that by trying to compete with larger outlets, we cannot be the best at selling gasoline and for the same reason we cannot run the most competitive convenience stores. But after thoroughly researching the automotive service vertical, we decided that we could, indeed, be the best by creating our own brand and becoming a destination for an exceptional service experience. So that is now our differentiator.

“As our chain continues to grow, we are committed to ensuring the team spirit of our employees and the business loyalty of our customers continue to thrive.”

Nemphos recommends other tire dealers ready to sell follow his lead and "hire a professional…ideally a business broker who specializes in the automotive service sector, as a guide. The industry keeps evolving. For instance, although we started out strictly as an auto service business, about 15 years ago we added tire sales as well to the business mix and the AutoStream owners want to grow further. Art Blumenthal proved that he knows his stuff in advising me and did a great job of finding a buyer who would be the best fit for taking the business into the future. In this case, I would have to say that he was more valuable than my own attorney.”

Art Blumenthal said, “Right now in 2020, economic condition forecasts and business optimism are fueling growth activities among expansion-minded organizations looking to leverage their economies of scale and team resources. I am now actively working with many individual entrepreneurs and corporate buyers seeking new business opportunities and expansion and matching them with sellers looking for a retirement exit strategy.”

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