Anderson Family Acquires Historic Smart Motors in Wisconsin

The Madison-based dealership is one of the oldest in the U.S., founded 115 years ago.

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Mickey Anderson of Baxter Auto Group, the new owners of Smart Motors.

After more than a century under the Smart family's stewardship, renowned Smart Motors of Madison, WI, has entered a new chapter with its acquisition by the Anderson family of Omaha.

Founded in 1908, Smart Motors stands as one of the oldest automotive dealerships in the U.S. Its journey through 115 years encompassed 28 different vehicle franchises and spanned three generations of the Smart family. J.R. Smart, the current president and CEO, has chosen the Anderson family to continue the legacy his family has built.

The Andersons are no strangers to the automotive industry. Their journey began in 1957 when Tal Anderson started working at Baxter Chrysler-Plymouth in Omaha, NE. His dedication and acumen eventually led him to become the owner of the dealership in 1983. The Andersons' commitment to honoring their business heritage and community service made them ideal successors for Smart Motors.

Both the Smarts and the Andersons share a history of overcoming challenges like gas shortages, wars, a pandemic and supply chain issues. Their resilience and dedication to their communities have been a cornerstone of their operations.

"I celebrated my 52nd anniversary at the dealership earlier this year," J.R. Smart said. "Ensuring that my teammates and the communities we serve were well cared for was paramount in my decision."

The Anderson family's dedication to quality, customer satisfaction and continuous improvement resonated with Smart's values.

"I could have sold the dealership to any number of organizations," said Smart. "But I chose Mickey Anderson and the Baxter Auto Group because of our shared core values."

Mickey Anderson expressed enthusiasm for continuing the Smart family's legacy in Madison, acknowledging the challenge and commitment required to build upon this historic foundation.

Toyota, which has had a long association with Smart Motors, also expressed its support for the transition. Shane Sizemore, general manager of Toyota Motor North America's Chicago Region, commended the ownership at Smart Toyota for nearly 60 years of automotive excellence and welcomed Baxter Auto Group to the Madison market.

The Smart family's history in the automotive industry has been marked by innovation and adaptability. From selling unique brands like the Apperson Jackrabbit to becoming Wisconsin's first Toyota dealer in 1966, the family has navigated various industry shifts with acumen.

The Smart and Anderson families also share a deep commitment to community involvement. The Smart family has been involved in numerous charitable initiatives in Madison, while the Anderson family founded the Children's Scholarship Fund of Omaha and continues to support various charitable causes.

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