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DVG Automotive chief and co-founder Lou Divirgilio hands over management reins to Japanese owners

Outgoing DVG chief Lou Divirgilio with Yusuke Hatori, president of IDOM, the Japanese owner of the automotive group. Credit: Simon Santi

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The chief and co-founder of DVG Automotive is surrendering the management reins of WA’s second biggest car dealer to the company’s Japanese owners.

DVG said today managing director Lou Divirgilio would step down on March 1 in favour of Takayoshi Udagawa to focus on his dual role as chairman.

Mr Udagawa has been working in DVG since the family business was bought by Japan’s Gulliver International, now IDOM, nearly three years ago.

DVG was founded in 1996 by Mr Divirgilio and his six brothers, who retain 33 per cent of DVG.

Mr Divirgilio’s brothers were working in DVG at the dealership level when IDOM bought the business but they have since also stepped back from day-to-day management roles. Two, however, remain directors on the DVG board.

DVG, which has 24 new and used car dealerships across Perth. has only recently emerged from some painful cutbacks forced on the group by WA’s weak car market.

However, it is now back in profit and riding a recovery in both fleet and private sales.

Mr Divirgilio said today he advised IDOM of his wish to step back during IDOM president Yusuke Hatori’s visit to Perth last month.

“All the hard work has been done in the past 8-9 months, we’re back in a good situation, and I’d just like to concentrate on the board,” he said.

While IDOM is principally involved in used cars in Japan, Mr Divirgilio said Mr Udagawa had been with DVG long enough to learn the new car business.

“He knows the intricacies of the new car business and he’s got a good network around him.”

DVG’s management structure has also been strengthened with the recent appointment of Tony Salerno from Automotive Holdings Group as chief operating officer.

Mr Divirgilio said in a statement he looked forward “to being a part of DVG’s exciting growth strategy over the coming years, to continue to work with and provide strong mentorship to the new leadership team and to continue to engage with many of DVG’s key stakeholders”.

He expressed pride in the business that he and his brothers founded when they bought a small used car yard in Maddington 22 years ago.

“It’s been a fantastic journey for me and my six brothers over the past 20 plus years, but the time is now right to hand over the keys and let Uda and his team take the business to the next level,” he said.

Mr Hatori paid tribute to the Divirgilios.

“DVG is an excellent business with a fantastic reputation,” Mr Hatori said.

“We recognised that when we bought the majority shareholding in 2015.

“The business is what it is today because of the hard work and commitment shown by Lou, his brothers and the wonderful team at DVG.”

Lou Divirgilio has announced he will step down on March 1.