An Illinois company has purchased Wayzata-based Village Automotive Group including the Lexus dealerships in Maplewood and Wayzata and Village Chevrolet in Wayzata.

The Village Automotive Group was founded in 1950 when the Bloomer family moved to Wayzata and purchased Wayzata Chevrolet. In the 1980s, the company was among the first dealerships to be awarded a Mitsubishi franchise and in 1989 became one of the charter dealerships for the Lexus brand.

The company has about 400 employees, and operations also include the Auto Center Bargain Lot — a used-car dealership — and Wayzata Auto Center Collision Repair.

With the purchase, the Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based Ed Napleton Auto Group now has about 3,500 employees across 79 franchises and 47 locations in eight states including Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and now Minnesota.

Brian Napleton, director of Midwest operations for the Ed Napleton Auto Group, said Village is “a well-run profitable dealership.”

“We bought them for a reason,” he said.

Ed Napleton, Brian’s great-grandfather, started the company in 1931 with a DeSoto dealership on Chicago’s south side before switching quickly to a Chrysler Plymouth nameplate.

Brian Napleton said the company does not plan on any staffing changes at the Minnesota properties.

“We have no intention of changing the way they do business,” Napleton said.

Napleton wouldn’t disclose the purchase price for the Village group but did say it is the largest deal his company has completed as it has doubled in size over the last four years. The aging demographics of family-run auto dealerships has presented more acquisition opportunities in recent years.

Automotive News has ranked the Ed Napleton Auto Group as one of the 26th largest dealerships in the country by total new vehicle retail units sold.

According to Automotive News, there were a record 240 auto-dealership transactions in 2015 and the pace of auto dealership transactions slowed to 221 in 2016 and 202 in 2017.

“The aging dealership principal climate right now that are deciding whether to retire, or sell, or hand off the business to another generation — that seems to be the opportunity we are seeing in the stores we are acquiring across the country,” Brian Napleton said.