It might seem to be an unusual move for one of North America’s largest heavy equipment dealers to buy a consumer car dealership on the North Freeway.
But William Doggett, general counsel of Doggett Industries, said that the purchase of Lone Star Ford on May 1 is all part of the goal of diversifying their company, which already employs 1,300 people and earned $1.14 billion in gross revenue last year.
“It’s because Ford is a great brand,” said Doggett, pointing out that Ford has the best-selling car on the market with the Ford F-150. And Doggett noted that Chief Financial Officer Brian McLemore came from Group 1 Automotive and already has a firm grasp of the automotive business. “Market share wise, Ford is very strong. We were interested in doing something different.”
There were other factors in play as well, as Sonic Automotive, who owned Lone Star Ford, had other plans for the land at 8477 North Fwy., and wanted to sell the Ford dealership. Because Ford dealerships already exist to the north and south of Lone Star, Sonic was looking for a nearby company with enough land to house a Ford dealership.
Doggett said it was an opportunity they were ready to capitalize on.
Doggett Industries has their headquarters and their Houston John Deere dealership housed at 9111 N Fwy., on the site of the former Landmark Chevrolet. They already owned eight acres to the north of their building and recently acquired another five acres north of that. The plan is to move the newly minted Doggett Ford by July 31 and begin construction at that time on a brand new flagship dealership which will be accessible from both I-45 and State Hwy 249. In the meantime, Doggett Ford is open at 8477 North Fwy.
“We really believe in the Northside,” said Doggett.
The company has come a long way since Leslie Doggett bought his first Toyota forklift dealership in 1993. Now they operate more than 30 heavy equipment dealerships, including Toyota forklifts and John Deere construction and forestry equipment.
“The John Deere Construction store was initially on the North Loop, but we moved it here,” said Doggett. “This has been our best year yet for our Houston John Deere dealership.”
Doggett also sells Link Belt cranes and since 2013, Freightliner trucks. Doggett explains that Freightliner is a Mercedes Benz powered truck. “We sell the truck and the chassis.”
The company has equipment dealerships in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. With the price of oil on the rise, Doggett says that their south Texas stores are seeing an uptick in business.
Doggett is a family business and William Doggett says it will stay that way.
“We are efficient as a family owned company,” said Doggett. “Our employees like that they can talk directly to management. And we don’t need an influx of capital.”
William Doggett was a lawyer at Bracewell LLP before coming to work with his father four years ago. Sister Amy lives in Dallas and works in recruitment, visiting colleges to spread the word about Doggett to the college set.
Doggett said they like to recruit employees early in their careers to train them. He noted that Doggett is keeping almost all the technical personnel from Lone Star Ford to work at Doggett Ford and also looking to recruit additional technical workers.
With regards to their Ford dealership, Doggett says that the service aspect of the business will be a priority.
“If we don’t do service right, we will only sell [them] one car,” he said.
Their commitment to service also extends beyond equipment. Doggett has plans to host a fundraiser for Heights High School in the fall at their headquarters and also seeks other ways to make a positive impact.
“We really want to be involved in the community,” said Doggett.