When you “Come on Down” to Norwood, Mass., as decades of his advertisements have urged, you enter the Automile kingdom of Ernie Boch Jr., rock-and-roll auto magnate, chief celebrant of festivities like “Bochtoberfest, and public face of Toyota and Honda dealerships that bear his and his father’s and grandfather’s name.
But very quietly, Boch has just turned over his crown, sort of. He’s sold Boch Honda, Boch Toyota, Boch New To You, and the other Route 1 dealerships to a group led by Dan Dagesse, who’s been the day-to-day chief executive of the dealerships since 2011. Ernie Boch Jr. however will continue to be the media pitchman and public face of the dealerships, which will keep the Boch name.
“The people that bought it, Danny Dagesse, great guy, I've known him for a long time,’’ Boch said in an interview Friday afternoon. “It's just going to continue. it will be seamless to the public … I am still going to be the spokesperson, still marketing.’’
Because it’s a privately-held company, financial terms of the transaction are not being disclosed.
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Boch is keeping what is by far the largest and likely most profitable part of Boch Automotive Group: His Subaru of New England operation that is the wholesale distributor for every Subaru sold in the 64 dealerships in the six New England states. The Norwood-based operation imports Subarus from Japan and also processes Subarus manufactured in Indiana and sells them wholesale to dealers.
Compared to the dealerships he’s sold, Boch said, “It’s a bigger business, much bigger business.’’
Subaru doesn’t publicize numbers by state but an indication of how big – and how lucrative – the Subaru wholesale franchise is for Boch: According to I H S Automotive, the Subaru Forester was the single most popular model of new car sold in Connecticut, the Subaru Outback was the single most popular model of new car sold in Maine, and Subarus across the board put up such strong sales numbers in New England that this ranks as one of their most important markets in the world.
Boch is holding onto his Ferrari of New England and Maserati of New England franchises down the Automile from his Toyota and Honda franchises – because, you could say, he can.
“I'm keeping Ferrari and Maserati, because I love the vehicles,’’ Boch said. “Not that I don't love Toyota and Honda. Don't get me wrong. But Ferrari and Maserati are quite special.’’
With videographer Michael Bennett