In 2018, Utah-based Dealertrack DMS relocated offices from South Jordan to Draper, Utah. In the process, the company grew its available space to 112,000 square feet housed within a brand-new, state-of-the-art building along the Silicon Slopes. It was a landmark move for the company, which has added more than 500 new high-paying tech jobs to the local economy since 2015, cementing its place as one of Utah’s fastest-growing tech companies. From humble Utah beginnings, Dealertrack DMS has become one of the biggest players in the competitive dealership management software (DMS) industry. And the company’s story serves as an example of the value Salt Lake Valley innovation can bring to global business.
Using software developed in Utah, Dealertrack DMS helps thousands of dealerships to streamline processes, improve customer service, and operate their businesses more efficiently. The company’s DMS suite serves as an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software system for dealerships and provides them with comprehensive oversight into company operations ranging from sales and parts inventory to vehicle service and accounting.
Today, Dealertrack DMS supplies software to auto dealerships across the country and is a prime example of how Utah’s innovative tech scene has drawn international attention and accolades. But Dealertrack’s beginnings and evolution are as complex as the company is innovative, involving multiple businesses and mergers over the course of several decades.
Starting as Ensign Information Systems, founded by Rich Holland and Blake Nielson in the early 1990s, the company began with the goal of providing a new, modern DMS solution to auto retailers. In 1999, it was purchased by mobile database provider Sundog Technologies to form Arkona Dealer Management Solutions, based in South Jordan. Early on, the company differentiated itself by developing an application service provider (ASP) DMS that could be accessed through the internet. This removed the requirement to invest in expensive hardware and maintenance to run a dealer management system.
In the early 2000s, Arkona signed a contract with Mitsubishi Motors, whose interest stemmed from Arkona’s excellent service and innovative tools. The software’s built-in “Buy Here Pay Here” and “Finance & Insurance” systems helped auto retailers complete an entire transaction at the dealership, dramatically reducing the time and documents needed from customers. Mitsubishi’s exclusive contract instantly gave Arkona access to more than 500 dealership customers, and the business continued to grow.
Success brings attention. And the Utah company’s innovations began to draw the attention of New York-based Dealertrack. As a largely finance-oriented dealership tool, Dealertrack realized that Arkona’s DMS tools could significantly improve its offering. The company purchased Arkona in 2007 for $58.9 million, diversifying its services and solidifying its position in the marketplace.
Arkona, now Dealertrack DMS, provided Dealertrack with a competitive edge to drive sales and attract bigger buyers. And one of the biggest was General Motors. The auto giant made Dealertrack its priority DMS provider, giving the company access to more than 7,000 franchise dealerships throughout the country.
Within just a few short years, an innovative software solution developed in Utah had become an industry leader. By 2008, Dealertrack DMS had gained significant market share. And by 2014, the company was bringing in more than $800 million in revenue. And once again, the company’s success caught the attention of an even bigger buyer. Cox Automotive purchased Dealertrack in 2015 for a whopping $4 billion—constituting the largest auto software deal in history. What began as a small software program coded in South Jordan in the 1990s now exerts an enormous influence on the auto retail industry, touching thousands of auto dealerships and millions of car buyers worldwide.