Wahlberg and Jay Feldman, who owns eight Chevrolet dealerships in middle and southern Michigan, plan to launch their first car dealership here and call it Mark Wahlberg Chevrolet. Its website went live this afternoon.
Feldman had announced plans to purchase the Bobby Layman Chevrolet at 3900 W. Broad St. in March, but Wahlberg's involvement was revealed Thursday afternoon in a release.
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"I am continuously looking for ways to innovate my brand and engage in businesses I am passionate about," Wahlberg said in a statement. "I love cars and the chance to work with an experienced, proven dealer-operator like Jay and represent an iconic brand like Chevrolet inspired me to get involved."
Wahlberg and Feldman have worked together in the burger chain known as Wahlburgers. They are partners in a Wahlburgers restaurant in Cleveland, as well as the master franchise for the state of Georgia, which includes oversight of the Wahlburgers location at Battery/Sun Trust Park, where the Atlanta Braves play.
In a phone interview, Feldman said he and Wahlberg have been friends for several years and have been talking about the car business. Layman died in 2014 and the family has been considering what to do with the dealership.
"We've been looking for the right opportunity," Feldman told me. "It's a beautiful facility and a brand we're familiar with, and we felt it made a lot of sense. Mark's well received all over the world and he has a tremendous presence."
Wahlberg's other business interests include a movie production company, a health and wellness company and water line with music star Diddy.
The purchase of the dealership – locals know it for the “three-nine-oh-oh West Broad” jingle from all those car commercials – triggered a filing with the state warning there could be layoffs among the 103 employees. But the dealership is going to grow with the need for new salesmen and technicians, Feldman said.
"Mark is involved in every business he owns, and frankly it's not unusual for him to just pop in and see how things are going," Feldman said. "He is going to be a regular presence in Columbus."
Wahlberg and Feldman began searching for a dealership to acquire last year. And they said they expect to open additional dealerships in the future.
"We're focused on turning this one into the biggest success it can be," Feldman said.