Car dealer Tom Denecker and his partner buy Shea Motors

MIDDLEBURY — Addison County now has one Chevrolet dealership.
On Dec. 12, Tom Denecker and partner Mike Capra, owners of Denecker Chevrolet in Ferrisburgh and Vergennes, completed their purchase of Middlebury’s Shea Motors, in a deal brokered by both dealerships’ parent company, General Motors.
Shea Motors owner Jerry Shea had been set to sell to a third party after 36 years on Route 7 south of Middlebury village, Denecker said, when GM exercised a standard right of first refusal and offered the same deal to Denecker and Capra.
“They have a right to exercise their option on any dealer purchase and sale agreement to assign the agreement to someone other than the original buyer, as long as the contract conditions stay the same,” Denecker said.
That GM offer to Denecker came almost immediately after he and Capra walked away from their $350,000 deal to buy 35 acres owned by Ferrisburgh, on which they had hoped to consolidate their Vergennes and Ferrisburgh operations.
But they ran into Agency of Natural Resources and Addison County Regional Planning Commission opposition to their Act 250 permit application, specifically due to a new anti-sprawl provision, for a site that lies at the junction of Routes 7 and 22A. On Nov. 6, Denecker informed Ferrisburgh that he could not meet contract contingencies due to that opposition, and canceled the deal. Ferrisburgh officials blamed the state agency and the new law, not the auto dealer.
Now, Denecker is happy a new door opened as that one closed.
“It seemed as though when I withdrew my deal from Ferrisburgh, it was only days before the dialogue began,” Denecker said. “Kind of like, ‘Before you think about another location, how about if we offered you Middlebury?’ I thought, really?”
That dialogue turned into a closing in a matter of weeks. Denecker said the final deal included for an undisclosed price “all the assets of Shea Motor Co., property, 8.5 acres, furniture, fixtures, equipment, parts and accessories and good will.”
Between the North Main Street, Vergennes, and Route 7 Middlebury locations, Denecker said the dealership now has for sale more than 200 new Chevrolet cars, trucks, vans and SUVs, plus more than 100 used vehicles.
The deal will mean changes:
•  Denecker and Capra will keep their North Main Street, Vergennes, facility, and devote it to service of “all makes and models” while specializing in GM products, and to used car sales.
•  Denecker’s six-year-old Ferrisburgh Chevrolet dealership building on 2.3 acres at the corner of Route 7 and Monkton Road is on the market with Redstone for long-term lease or for sale for $679,000. It will not be a GM dealership.
•  Denecker’s Ferrisburgh sales staff came to Middlebury, and he said the Shea sales staff remained on board. Not all Shea employees stayed on, however. “We interviewed every Shea employee and kept every employee that wished to stay,” Denecker said. “Some retired, moved on, changed careers, etc.”
•  Denecker plans to expand the back end of the Middlebury dealership, but will close Shea’s body shop in the process. “The service and parts departments will be expanded with more lifts and a greater parts inventory,” Denecker said.
•  Construction is on tap. “In the near future, we will begin renovations on the Middlebury dealership to bring it into compliance with the GM Essential Brands Element program,” Denecker said.
Denecker said he and Capra are excited about the new chapter in their four-year-old partnership.
“It is going to be a wonderful experience for all of the customers,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for us.”
Denecker first became an Addison County new-car dealer when he purchased Miller Chevrolet, now his North Main Street facility, from the retiring Howard Miller in 1992.
Now, he is wishing the best to another GM dealer who is ready to step down.
“Jerry Shea and his wife, Nancy, have retired after 36 years at the Middlebury location,” he said. “We wish them much happiness in retirement.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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