Lockhart, Nova Join Dealership Forces

Rolf Lockwood

Left to right: John MacKay, equipment sales; Peter Macgillivray, president and CEO; and Rod MacKay, vice president operations. Not pictured is Jim MacKay, chairman

TRURO, NS. — To nobody’s great surprise, Nova Scotia’s Lockhart Truck Center and Nova Enterprises have merged to form a single entity under the Nova name. Rumors have swirled about this potential link for several years now.

A new ownership group has been established in the process, with Peter Macgillivray as president and CEO. Previously he was a partner, and had been since 2007, in the Lockhart Western Star dealership located in Dartmouth’s thriving Burnside Industrial Park. The merger sees him buy out his former partner Dave Lockhart.

Nova is a Freightliner dealership based in Truro, originally launched in 1967 by brothers Louie, Jim, and Jack MacKay as a three-bay garage in Brookside, NS. It’s been a Freightliner store since 1980, moving to its present facility in Truro Heights in 1983.

Rod MacKay will be vice president, operations, of the new company and his cousin John MacKay will have an ownership stake and remain in equipment sales. Rod’s father, Jim MacKay will serve as chairman. Jack MacKay has been bought out.

We caught up with Macgillivray and Rod MacKay for an interview during the recent Atlantic Truck Show in Moncton, though the deal wasn’t finalized until this week.

Macgillivray, with a long history of working for several truck OEMs, has built Lockhart into a strong business in spite of losing the Sterling franchise when Daimler Trucks North America decided to bury the brand three years ago. As well as parts and service, his focus remains on the vocational market. In 2009 Lockhart sold more Western Stars than any other North American dealership. It also has a Fuso franchise.

The merged company will build a new Lockhart facility in the Burnside area, to open within two years. It will include what is presently a satellite Nova service shop just doors away from Lockhart’s current location.

The Nova dealership is primarily focused on highway operators, and small ones at that, with some vocational activity as well. It was built largely on the parts-and-service side of things, with a strong focus on relationships. The 19-bay/16-acre facility in Truro Heights has been a 24-hour operation since June 1995. A five-bay trailer service shop opened there in 1997. It’s also a Great Dane dealer, with other trailer franchises as well, including Doepker, Fontaine, and Landoll.

Macgillivray says the two brands, Lockhart and Nova, will remain distinct. Freightliners will continue to be sold in Truro, Western Stars in Dartmouth. Rod MacKay adds, “We’re not about to slice and dice and cut it up.”

But there are significant synergies to be enjoyed behind the scenes in terms of administration, training, and of course parts buying. Combined, the two dealerships will buy something like $15 million worth of parts annually, which obviously offers better leverage than spending $5 million and $10 million separately.

Parts selling as well. Rod MacKay notes that Nova previously had four outside parts salespeople while Lockhart had one; now they both have five.

There’s nothing pending about this merger. The deal has closed. — RL

Rolf Lockwood

Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to Trucknews.com.

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