By Jeff Gilbert

SOUTHFIELD — (WWJ) R.L. Polk and company could be for sale.

Polk—family owned for more than 140 years—collects data for the auto industry, and also provides information to dealers and consumers through its Carfax subsidiary.

“R.L. Polk and company has engaged Evercore partners, which is a New York investment banking firm,” said Polk Vice President Lonnie Miller . “They are exploring strategic growth opportunities with us.”

Interview: Jeff Gilbert talks with Polk VP Lonnie Miller.

Miller said those growth opportunities could include a sale, but that’s just one of the possible outcomes. He said there is no timetable.

The Wall Street Journal estimates that Polk could be worth a billion dollars.

Ralph Lane Polk founded the company in 1870 as a firm that published directories. Over the years Polk gained a reputation for its ability to impartially collect data. That’s when Polk’s fortunes merged with those of the brand new auto industry.

“It is this reputation that spurred Alfred P. Sloan, president and later chairman of General Motors, to ask Ralph Lane Polk II to impartially tabulate and publish automotive statistics in the early 1920s,” read a history on the company’s web site. “Shortly thereafter, Polk began its role as an automotive information and solutions provider by publishing its first Passenger Car Registration Report, covering 58 makes and accounting for 9.2 million passenger automobiles on America’s highways. The company has been a key partner to the automotive industry ever since.”

The company is also known for the Owner Loyalty Awards it gives out to auto companies every January.

Polk’s current CEO is Steven Polk, the great-grandson of the founder. It’s headquarters are in Southfield, but Polk has offices around the world.

Vice President Lonnie Miller says it’s too early to tell what changes this announcement could mean.

“Nothing changes with this announcement. We’re continuing business as usual. We’re just looking at where the growth opportunities may take us.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Twitter: @jefferygilbert


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