The owner of a Tulsa auto dealership facing a $46 million lawsuit by a company that purchased one of his dealerships called the suit’s allegations “simply false” on Tuesday and said the company has “broken the spirit” of the dealership he sold to them.
Jim Glover, his daughter Kristen Glover, his son Jared Glover, as well as Glover’s companies Claremore Automotive Group LLC, the Jim Glover on the River dealership in Tulsa, and two former Jim Glover employees were sued in Tulsa County District Court on April 11 by Roundtree Autogroup LLC and Tulsa C Properties LLC.
Roundtree, a Dallas-based company that owns numerous car dealerships across the country, purchased the Jim Glover Chevrolet dealership at 8130 E. Skelly Dr., in mid-2017, as well as the dealership’s customer lists, merchandising materials and rights to the “Jim Glover Chevrolet” name for one year for a total of $46 million. Included in that total were payments to Jim, Kristen and Jared Glover in separate “goodwill” agreements.
Months prior to the sale, Glover had opened a new dealership Jim Glover Chevrolet on the River, 707 W. 51st St.
The suit alleges the defendants committed fraud, civil conspiracy, interference with contract and business relations, misappropriation of trade secrets, deceptive trade practices and numerous breaches of contract.
The lawsuit states that once the sale was finalized, the Glovers and former employees at Glover who stayed at the dealership after the sale worked to sabotage the dealership Roundtree had purchased, now known as Route 66 Chevrolet.
According to the lawsuit, the former Glover employees took down the dealership’s Jim Glover Chevrolet sign and didn’t replace it for months, gave away or destroyed all merchandise with the Jim Glover Chevrolet name on it, stole Route 66 customer information, stole promotional ideas and other dealership information and passed them on to Jim Glover on the River.
The suit also states that Glover violated a non-competition agreement that prohibited him from hiring employees who worked at Route 66 Chevrolet for three years.
“The allegations made by Roundtree are simply false,” Glover said in a statement sent to The Frontier on Tuesday. “The lawsuit seems to be nothing more than an attempt to blame others for their mismanagement.”
Glover said that a couple of years ago, he and his children met about his retirement and the future of the Glover business, which at the time had a non-working partner with a 35 percent stake in the business, Glover’s statement read.
“I didn’t want the kids to be strapped to that partnership moving forward after my retirement,” Glover said in his statement. “I spoke with the partner, and the only fair way we could dissolve the partnership was to sell the Chevrolet dealership on Memorial on the open market.”
Glover said he and his family chose to buy the On the River dealership and move the main office there while putting Jim Glover Chevrolet dealership near Interstate 44 and Memorial Drive up for sale.
Glover said there were several potential buyers interested in Jim Glover Chevrolet dealership, including Roundtree President Matt Stinson, who told Glover that he had $1 billion to buy the biggest dealerships in the region to add to the company’s holdings, the statement read.
“One of our family’s main concerns was how any prospective buyer would treat our employees who had been with us for many years,” Glover’s statement read. “We wanted to make sure that whomever we sold the dealership to wouldn’t be one that believes their way is a better way, and would get rid of our people to bring in their own.”
Glover said Stinson assured him that Roundtree would keep the current employees on board, including the dealership’s general manager Steve Harrison, who traveled to Dallas to meet with Stinson.
“I told Steve that if he wasn’t comfortable with Matt and Roundtree, that we would move on,” Glover said. “It was very important to us that Steve remained the GM (general manager) for any buyer, because we knew he would make sure all the other employees were taken care of long term.”
After the meeting, Harrison was excited about the opportunity, Glover said, and though there were several other offers to buy the dealership, the family decided to sell the dealership to Roundtree.
Glover said the agreement with Roundtree did allow the company to use the Jim Glover Chevrolet name at the dealership for up to one year “as long as they protected the integrity and reputation of our name” since the Jim Glover Chevrolet on the River dealership, where Kristen Glover is the dealer, was already operating.
Glover said he and the family did not have anything to do with the decisions made at the Roundtree-owned dealership, later named Route 66 Chevrolet, after the sale, but a few months after the sale was finalized Stinson and Route 66 started firing the previous management team, many of whom had been a part of the Glover business for more than 20 years.
“If the Glover family has done anything wrong, it’s that we were compassionate about these families that were terminated for no reason and with no notice,” Glover said. “When we entered into the buy-sell agreements with Roundtree, we never expected them to terminate our previous employees, by statements Matt Stinson had made about how important all the employees were to him.”
Now, Glover said, Roundtree is trying to harm the Glover family and business.
“Matt Stinson and Route 66 have broken the spirit of the dealership themselves by firing all these employees,” Glover said. “Now they are trying to slander our name and reputation by making allegations in this lawsuit that are so far from the truth.”
However, the Glover family’s attorney Phil Frazier said Monday after The Frontier broke the story that the lawsuit is baseless.
Though the lawsuit states that the allegations “read like a novel,” Frazier said he would characterize the allegations a different way.
“I would prefer to call it a fairy tale,” Frazier said, adding that it may be a week to a month before a response to the suit is filed. “This lawsuit is unbelievable. It has multiple pages and we have not had an opportunity to digest the fairytale nature of this suit.”
The response will likely include a counter suit, Frazier said, though he would not go into the specific claims that would be included in the counter suit.
“They claim they were duped by Jim Glover,” Frazier said. “They’ve been in business longer than we have and have dealerships, at least 40, across the United States. I hardly think they would let us take advantage of them.”
Frazier said Jim Glover and the Glover family did not dupe or take advantage of Roundtree or its president Matt Stinson, who flew to Tulsa and met with Glover at his home prior to the sale.
According to the suit, Stinson had been told that Glover wanted to wind his business down and eventually turn it over to his children. However, Frazier said, language referencing the Jim Glover on the River dealership was included in the sale agreement and Roundtree knew Glover would be overseeing that dealership once Jim Glover Chevrolet sold.
“They were well aware of that,” Frazier said. “They were well aware the Glover family was going to continue to run that dealership.”
Frazier said Glover did authorize Roundtree to continue using the Jim Glover Chevrolet name, but only until the company came up with a new name for the dealership, and the contract also allowed the Glovers to end the deal if they felt their name was being misused.
“We had a reservation to except to the misuse of our name. That exception was a unilateral right we had, and we did except the way they were using our name, which was misleading,” Frazier said, though he declined to elaborate on how the name was being misused.
“Suffice it to say we objected to the way they used the name,” Frazier said.
The employees who were working at Route 66 Chevrolet but later hired by Jim Glover on the River were not “poached,” as alleged in the lawsuit, but had been fired prior to Glover hiring them, and those employees approached Glover asking for a job, Frazier said.
“A material part of this transaction was Mr. Glover and his family wanted them to keep these employees so they would have a place to work,” Frazier said. “We obviously couldn’t take them all with us, so we asked that they (Roundtree) keep at least 75 percent of them. The employees they’re complaining about us hiring away from them, were in fact fired and they were not contacted at any time by Glover once they were fired by the plaintiffs. Then he indeed offered them a job because they had been with Glover for a long, long time and he felt a sense of loyalty to his people as they did to him.”
One of the allegations in the lawsuit was that a manager at Route 66 who had formerly worked for Glover stole the dealership’s data for 44,000 customers before going to work at Glover’s new dealership.
“We know what they’re referring to, but there’s nothing to that at all,” Frazier said. “It’s just a fairy tale.”
Frazier also said Glover never misrepresented how successful Jim Glover Chevrolet was to Roundtree or Stinson, though the suit makes it appear that he did.
“It’s a shame because these people have been in business a long, long time,” Frazier said. “Jim Glover is well-respected in Tulsa, he’s been in Tulsa a long time. His family is respected. He’s the top dealer in Tulsa and one of the top dealers in the whole country. You don’t enjoy the reputation he has enjoyed by taking advantage of or misleading people.”