The Nevada-based Findlay Automotive Group is on a roll, dismissing talk of a continuous recession in its primary market of Las Vegas, one of the areas hit hardest by the recent hard times.

Owner Cliff Findlay, to the contrary, expects an improving economy and higher sales. The group is No.28 on the latest Ward's Megadealer 100, up from No.32 the year before.

“We are so upbeat throughout our 24 dealerships that we have started renovating five of them and are erecting a new building for our newest one,” Findlay says.

The group's sales rose 10.4% in 2010 to $840.5 million. The goal this year is a 12% increase, says Tyler Corder, the group's chief financial officer.

Besides Nevada, the group runs stores in Arizona, Idaho and Utah. It represents Honda, Volkswagen, Kia, Toyota, Hyundai, Subaru, Audi, Land Rover, Cadillac, Saab, Lincoln, Acura and Chevrolet.

“The Vegas-Henderson market spurted in the last half of the year at nearly all our locations,” Corder says.

Findlay's brand diversification helps its pattern of steady growth in sales and revenues.

“We can offer customers brands in every segment at a convenient distance from all the Vegas and Henderson residential areas,” Corder says. “That enables us to service all brands of new cars at any dealership and sell all brands at any Findlay store's used-car lots.

Based in Henderson, just outside of Las Vegas, the Findlay network has branched out with the addition of foreign brands.

This strategy has led to the opening of Honda, VW and Toyota franchises in Flagstaff, AZ; Kia, VW and Hyundai-Subaru stores in St. George, UT, and a Hyundai-Mazda dealership in Post Falls, ID.

“The Southwest is experiencing population growth that stimulates younger buyers,” says Corder.

He adds, “We are looking at expansion opportunities in hopes of approaching the $1 billion annual revenue mark as the western market widens in 2011 and 2012.”