Cecil Van Tuyl, the patriarch of the nation’s largest independently-owned auto dealership group, died Tuesday at age 85.
Cecil Van Tuyl opened his first dealership in 1955 in Kansas City, Mo., which carried Chevrolet. After that, he acquired dealerships in Quincy, Ill, and Topeka, Kan., in the early 1960s and the Van Tuyl Group was born.
His son, Larry, joined the company in 1971 and has had the lead role in business operations as co-CEO.
The group is unique because each dealer principal owns a stake in their stores. The group provides the dealerships with services like finance and insurance, technology and accounting.
“Cecil represented the best of the auto industry… a driven entrepreneurial spirit and a deep desire to assist everyone he knew to succeed. The business lost a great man today,” Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager of Toyota, said in a statement.
The Van Tuyl Group, based in Phoenix, Ariz., ranks No. 5 on the Automotive News list of top 125 U.S. dealership groups with 96,139 retail new vehicle sales in 2012. The Van Tuyl Group owns several of the Car Pro Show dealer affiliates in Phoenix.