MINNETONKA, Minn., March 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ – Fremont Private Holdings, LLC (“FPH”) and Karl Schmidt announced that they have completed the acquisition of Morrie’s Automotive Group (“Morrie’s” or the “Company”), owner and operator of 11 automotive dealership locations. FPH, Schmidt and management acquired the Company from Morrie Wagener and the Wagener family.
Morrie’s was founded in the 1960s when Morrie Wagener purchased a single automotive dealership where he worked as a mechanic and manager. Today, the Company has grown to become one of the largest automotive retail groups in the Twin Cities. Since inception, Morrie’s has been run as a family business that emphasized customer service and satisfaction. The Company’s values were formalized nearly seven years ago, when Morrie’s developed its “Buy Happy” promise. The Company offers a no-haggle, best-price approach where vehicles have predetermined prices, which are not negotiable. The Company continues that philosophy today, helping customers have fun purchasing vehicles and focusing on service in a customer-friendly environment.
Morrie’s will continue to be led by CEO Karl Schmidt, who commented, “FPH is the perfect partner for our business. We share the same vision for the Company, and FPH brings a strong knowledge of the industry as well as access to the capital and resources necessary to enable us to continue to improve our offerings and better serve our customers.”
According to Scott Earthy, Managing Partner of FPH, “We look forward to our partnership with Karl and his team, who created the Buy Happy promise and have led Morrie’s to where it is today. The Company is one of the leading dealership groups in the Twin Cities area. We are excited about the opportunity we have to enhance our operations and expand in the Upper Midwest region over time.”
Tim Sheehy, Partner of FPH, added, “Morrie’s exemplifies everything we look for in an investment – an attractive, unique service offering, a proven and dedicated team, and a demonstrated history of success. We look forward to working closely with Karl and the management team to achieve our strategic goals.”
For more information on Morrie’s, please visit http://www.morries.com.
About Morrie’s Automotive Group
Morrie’s Automotive Group was founded in 1960 by Morrie Wagener, a graduate of Dunwoody College of Technology. Currently, Morrie’s Automotive Group offers 10 brands, including Aston Martin, Bentley, Cadillac, Ford, Hyundai, Lincoln, Maserati, Mazda, Nissan and Subaru with locations in Minnesota and Wisconsin. For more information, visit www.morries.com.
About Fremont Private Holdings
Fremont Private Holdings is the direct private investment arm of Fremont Group, the investment office for the Bechtel family. FPH makes platform investments of $30 million to $100 million in growing family and founder-owned operating businesses generating $15 million to $50 million in EBITDA. FPH looks to build businesses in partnership with management over the long term and considers both majority and minority investments in a wide variety of industries. For more information, visit www.fremontprivateholdings.com.
I just wanted to take a quick moment to discuss what Ford is doing right now, and how excited that should make all of us. We recently took a trip out to the city of Detroit (home of the blue oval) for the North American International Auto Show where, once again, I was blown away by what Ford was doing. I also learned that the auto show attracted some 815,000+ people this year which is a completely different point but nonetheless makes me happy for the auto industry in general. Ford had an amazing display with all the the latest and greatest including the new Ford Fusion, which will be a 325hp AWD sedan that should blow away the competition.
So back to my original point in that Ford is onto something special right now and I truly think this is a great enhancement for the auto industry in general. I mean look at the lineup that Ford is bringing to the table right now. Cars, trucks and SUVs that are everyday capable vehicles that are reliable and, in some regards, the best selling vehicle (cough, cough F-150) for almost the last 40 years. Then look at all this excitement they are building and that really is what this article is all about. Let me start at the so called, “bottom” and work my way up.
Now that we’ve had some time to decompress from the craziness that was North American International Auto Show Week, we figured we’d go back through some of our photos from the show to bring you a select few highlights and also some of the disappointments we saw in Detroit. With at least 20 new unveilings at NAIAS in addition to the hundreds of brand new cars decorating the manufacturers’ booth, it was hard to pick just one favorite. So here’s our list of the Hots and the Nots.
HOT: Mazda MX-5 Speedster Concept
We already love the new MX-5, but the skunkworks team at Mazda took an extreme lightweighting approach to this build for show car for SEMA and removed the windshield and convertible top, saving 250 lbs in the process. The wheels have been replaced by lightweight forged wheels and the interior has been suitably stripped out as well. Although it’s unlikely Mazda would ever put an honest sub-2,000 lb Miata into production, we’d still love to get behind the wheel of this thing!
NOT: Chevrolet Bolt
Switching gears a bit, the Chevy Bolt is the EV city-car hatchback take on Tesla’s upcoming Model 3. With a base price of around $30,000 after federal tax credits, it won’t exactly be cheap. Hopefully buyers can look past the price tag and understand that getting 200 miles of range and lightweight aluminum construction isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world. It’s just not what we’d call… um… pretty.
HOT: Buick Avista Concept
“That’s a Buick?!” We heard this remark from a number of people on the show floor and must admit, it’s certainly a strikingly beautiful vehicle. This certainly isn’t your grandpa’s Buick. This sexy coupe could potentially be put into production on the same chassis as the Chevy Camaro and Cadillac ATS, and use a slightly detuned version of the CTS V-Sport’s twin-turbocharged V6 to put out around 400 horsepower. For now, it’s just a concept but we’re honestly excited for the day Buick builds this thing!
NOT: Mercedes-Benz E-Class and SLC-Class
While the new E-Class is the best midsize sedan the company has ever built, had we not looked at the badges, we never would’ve guessed that it wasn’t either the C-Class or the S-Class. Aside from changes in wheelbase and options, they all look nearly identical. It’s a problem that has plagued their competitor Audi for ages, and now Mercedes has fallen into the same trap, it would seem. To top it off, the new SLC replaces the SLK Convertible and while it’ll surely be the best small convertible they’ve ever built, we’re disappointed that they ditched the V8 in the top SLK 55 model and now uses a twin-turbo V6 that offers 54 less horsepower than the engine it replaces.
HOT: Lincoln Continental
We went nuts over the Continental Concept last year, and the refreshed MKZ in LA. Now, Lincoln has finally given us a production version of the Continental that we were all hoping for and it’s absolutely gorgeous. While it doesn’t come with the classy blue suede slippers of the concept car, it’s still about as suave as you can get. We especially love the jewel-like headlights, the touch-activated door handles, and yes, even the blue leather-lined interior.
HOT: 2017 Ford Fusion Sport
We already love the Fusion sedan so we certainly won’t complain about 325 hp and AWD to the mix! The styling is a pretty mild evolution of the current Fusion with a little Focus mixed in for good measure. Now we just need to get our hands on one to see if the “Sport” name fits the driving experience.
HOT: Ford GT pre-production model
This is it! The 99% production-ready Ford GT! In terms of exterior styling, what you’re looking at is the 2017 Ford GT. The interior has some trim bits that are still up in the air but this is more or less what you can expect to see later this year as the Ford GTs start hitting the streets. We also managed to get the first footage of the Ford GT going into Race Mode! Plus, this stormtrooper’ed out version looks stunningly good in person.
NOT: GMC Acadia
The new GMC Acadia is surely a practical day-to-day car that provides comfort and security on the road for you and your passengers but look at it. It’s not exactly awe-inspiring. Vehicles like this are the definition of automotive purgatory. We’ll pass.
HOT: Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
If you’re looking for a more inspiring people mover, we recommend checking out the new Chrysler Pacifica. It’s a bold, new look for what had been the Town & Country, and given all the new tech under the skin, it deserved a new name. How many minivans do you know of that can get 80 MPG and 530 mile range?!
HOT: 2017 Lexus LC500
Our first thought when we saw this was that Lexus had just rolled out another recycled concept car from the a couple years ago. They promptly corrected us though that this stunning, 467-hp, V8-powered sports car is not just a pipe dream. This is an actual production LC500 as it will appear in dealership showrooms later this year.
HOT: Beefy Off-Road Trucks (Nissan Titan Warrior Concept, Ford Raptor SuperCrew, Ram Rebel)
We’re suckers for a good, solid truck. And it doesn’t get any more solid than the Ford Raptor, right? Well, it seems at least a few manufacturers, including Ford themselves, are trying to improve upon the hot new off-road adventure truck segment. What surprised us the most was Nissan’s attempt with the new Titan Warrior concept. It was big and meaty looking, like a 20oz Porterhouse on wheels.
NOT: Infiniti Q60
We’re not sure what it is about the Q60 that is so uninspiring but despite it bring a 400-hp 2-door coupe, we just can’t get excited about it. Maybe it’s just because Infiniti has never had much of a reputation of making cars that are as dynamically pleasing to drive as they are to look at, or because there are just so many competent cars competing for the crown in this segment.
HOT: Genesis G90
Hyundai’s brand-new luxury spin-off brand is betting on the new Genesis G90 going head to head with the current king of luxury sedans: the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. While we’ve been skeptical of the Korean giant really backing up its claims of world-class luxury, the G90 might just be the car to prove us wrong. If only the name weren’t so generic…
Well that went fast! Here we are at the end of a very long second day at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, MI. While most of the big reveals happened yesterday, today was a great opportunity to check out a few new things like the all-new, production-ready Lincoln Continental and the Acura Precision concept, as well as doubling back on anything we might’ve missed in yesterday’s madness. We also saw the new Honda Ridgeline pickup, GMC Acadia, Infiniti Q60 Coupe, Audi’s H-Tron Concept as well as the new Allroad, and the big, boxy, and beautiful Kia Telluride SUV concept. The most interesting car of Day 2 was the dorky little Toyota Kikai concept. It’s a compact 3-seater with exposed engine and suspension that looks more off-road buggy than compact city car but we applaud Toyota for trying something weird and different. We were also blown away by Ford’s demonstration of the new GT’s Race Mode which drops the car on its wheels and raises up a gloriously aerodynamic wing that doubles as an air brake. Mind = blown!
We’re out here at the 2016 North American International Auto Show here in Detroit, MI this week and it surely didn’t disappoint. Day 1 is usually chock full of big reveals and included the updated Ford Fusion, including a 325 HP, AWD Sport model we’re excited about, as well as Raptor-fighting Nissan Titan “Warrior” Concept truck which looked awesome. We also Hyundai spin off it’s luxury brand Genesis with the new Genesis G90 to replace the Equus, while the G80 takes over the original Genesis sedan in the new lineup. Other notable debuts from Monday included the new BMW M2, a 365 hp small sedan, Volkswagen’s Tiguan GTE Concept that looked just as ready to tackle the Dakar Rally as it did the shopping mall, Porsche unveiled the new 911 Turbo and Turbo S, Buick debuted a surprisingly gorgeous 400 hp coupe based on the Camaro, and Lexus rolled out the LC500 and LC-FC, the former is a shockingly beautiful production-ready sports coupe with a 467 hp V8 while the latter is an elegant hybrid sedan. For us, the highlights of the show was actually the production-ready version of the incredible Ford GT that we saw debut here in concept form last year, and the new MX-5 Speedster concept that Mazda rolled out at SEMA this past November. But enough from us, take a look at the photos below and tell us which cars you like! We’ll be back tomorrow to recap Day 2 of the 2016 North American International Auto Show.
January 11th marks the start of the 2016 North American International Auto Show (or NAIAS for short) in Detroit, Michigan. As always, we’ll be there, live on the show floor for the press days to bring you all of the latest and greatest live from the show floor. While details have been pretty sparse this year as to what exactly is going to be revealed, most manufacturers like to keep tight-lipped and surprise us. For instance, Ford absolutely shocked everyone with a huge reveal of not only the new Shelby GT350R and Raptor but also the new Ford GT supercar, without leaking anything ahead of time. From what we have heard, there’s a good chance we’ll see an updated Ford Fusion, a production-ready Lincoln Continental, an all-new Hyundai Genesis G90 sedan, a spin-off model of the new Nissan Titan, and some new concepts from Volkswagen.
Although most of the big reveals were yesterday at the 2015 LA Auto Show, the low-pressure schedule today gave us time to make the rounds and get up close and personal with all the things we missed or wanted a second look at. We made sure to circle back and check out the Subaru Impreza Sedan Concept that we didn’t get the chance to see yesterday, as well as some of the new stuff Volkswagen, more crazy concepts from Kia, and some other odds and ends. And that’s a wrap! Goodbye, LA. We’ll miss your glorious weather.
And again, make sure to follow @MorriesAuto on Instagram or on Youtube (youtube.com/morriesauto) for more photos and video from the 2015 LA Auto Show.
One of the perks of our job is that we occasionally get to go to some of the bigger auto shows. As far as this time of year goes, it’s hard to beat the weather in LA and luckily, that’s where we ended up going this week for the 2015 LA Auto Show. Here’s a taste of what we saw today, and make sure to follow @MorriesAuto on Instagram or on Youtube (youtube.com/morriesauto) for more photos and video, live from the show floor. The Ford GT race car, new 400 HP Lincoln MKZ, Mazda CX-9, and Alfa Romeo Giulia got us the most excited. We can’t wait to see more tomorrow!
Not that any of us needed an excuse to get out of Minnesota just as it starts getting cold, but the Los Angeles International Auto Show will be a welcome change of scenery next week. It’s not just the warm weather we’re looking forward to, but the cars too. While we don’t know everything that will be debuting at the auto show this year, it’s sure to be a star-studded show with big debuts from Cadillac, Hyundai, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, and many more.
Cadillac is going to be debuting their SRX replacement – the XT5 – in LA this year. We’ve already seen a handful of photos that have leaked and the midsize crossover is quite beautiful. Being Cadillac’s highest selling vehicle in their lineup, this is a very important vehicle for the automaker and we have high hopes.
Hyundai is going to show off the new 2017 Elantra at the show, as well as possibly debut the Equus-replacing Genesis G90 in concept form. Hyundai is also aiming to split the Genesis name off into its own separate luxury brand, something the automaker has been planning with various degrees of success for a number of years now.
Mazda is taking big steps to replace their aging CX-9 crossover SUV that has remained largely the same for the last 9 years. We expect the new CX-9 to keep the 7-seat layout and offer fresh styling and more of the safety and infotainment technology, such as Mazda Connect, as we see on the rest of Mazda’s lineup.
Nissan will be debuting the updated 2016 Sentra in LA and although details have been scarce, we’re excited to see for ourselves just how Nissan has revised and refined the compact sedan for next year.
Subaru is also going to be rolling out their new Impreza Sedan concept after debuting the 5-door hatch version at the Tokyo Auto Show last month. This will show the design direction of the next generation Impreza that we’ll likely see sometime around 2017 or 2018.
Other notable vehicles that we’re looking forward to seeing include the new Porsche Cayman GT4 Club Sport, a new Mercedes-Benz SL convertible, a lightweight, rear-wheel drive Lamborghini Huracan, the Range Rover Evoque Convertible, an all-new Honda Civic Coupe, the Infiniti QX30 in production form, the new Buick LaCrosse sedan, and lastly, the new Fiat 124 Spider that is based on the new Mazda MX-5 platform. Surely there will be plenty of other interesting debuts at the show and we look forward to capturing them and sharing them with you later next week.
Morrie’s has partnered with the Minnesota Zoo to help restore Minnesota’s Prairie Wildlife by providing a Mazda CX-5 vehicle. Minnesota Zoo conservationists use it in the field across Minnesota and beyond researching prairie butterflies, moose and more recently bison. Below you’ll find an update from Minnesota Zoo conservationist Erik Runquist.
The Minnesota Zoo works every day to save wildlife. Our programs in Minnesota and around the world depend on partnerships. We have benefited from a great Mazda CX-5 field research vehicle through a generously donated lease from Morrie’s Automotive Group. In the past several months, we’ve taken the field vehicle across Minnesota and beyond to help save prairie butterflies and restore bison. Here are our Top Five spots from this summer!
1) The Minnesota Zoo
Who wouldn’t want to be at the Minnesota Zoo? At the Zoo, we expanded the world’s only breeding program for the US Threatened Dakota skipper, raising more than 150 from egg to adulthood, and produced many hundreds more eggs! The CX-5 was a true work horse, hauling around hundreds of food plants for the butterflies and other supplies!
2) Northeast South Dakota
Northeast South Dakota may have the world’s last best populations of Dakota skippers. We found most populations to be in good shape! Working under federal and state permits, we collected more eggs from a limited number of females and brought the eggs back to the Zoo.
3) Northwest Minnesota
With possibly the last Dakota skipper populations in our state, northwest Minnesota is very important to our work. With the CX-5, we found healthy numbers at the known site, and also searched new sites for previously unknown populations.
4) Western North Dakota
In mid-June, we took the CX-5 from the Zoo on its longest road trip ever: to western North Dakota! We surveyed prairie butterflies and looked for the rare Garita skipperling. While the skipperling remained elusive, we did find some spectacular prairies and great wildlife on the edge of the Badlands.
5) Minneopa State Park
Speaking of bison, did you know that the Minnesota Zoo and DNR proudly established a new herd of genetically rare bison at Minneopa State Park near Mankato in September? Zoo staff used the eye-catching CX-5 to help usher in a new era of Minnesota prairie wildlife conservation at Minneopa!
We are doing a lot thanks to all our great funders and partners. With the awesome Mazda CX-5 field vehicle from Morrie’s Auto Group, we can it do so much better! Thank you Morrie’s!