Fifty years after Al Serra opened the doors of his first Chevy store in Grand Blanc, his customer-first philosophy – “Take care of the customer, take care of the associates, and the rest will take care of itself” – is still alive and thriving in Michigan and across the nation.

Serra Automotive is now ranked No. 6 in the country among privately held retail automotive groups, according to Automotive News. They employ over 3,000 people in seven states and manage a network of 54 dealerships, 66 automotive franchises, and 25 brands.

That success has been possible thanks to Al Serra’s solid formula for growth, customer service, and team development, said his son Joe Serra, who purchased the business in 2000 and now serves as company chairman.

Matt Serra, Joe’s son, is company president.

“My father and I consider ourselves very lucky to have the really strong foundation started by my grandfather,” Matt Serra said. “We’ve got a great group of partners across the organization and a phenomenal team that always puts our customers first.”

Son, Matt Serra stands next to his father, Joe Serra outside the Chevrolet car dealership with an inset photo of Joe's father, Al Serra, standing next to a 1970's car inside his car dealership.
Left: Matt Serra and Joe Serra. Right: Founder Al Serra.

Despite their astronomical growth through the years, the Serras still have a strong base in Genesee County.

Al Serra Chevrolet, the company’s first dealership that opened in 1973, is now part of Al Serra Auto Plaza in Grand Blanc, selling 12 brands of vehicles across nine different locations. Today, it is the second-largest automotive campus in the nation and sells over 15,000 new and used vehicles annually, said Matt Serra.
Serra Automotive is headquartered in Fenton and has 25 locations in Michigan, ranging as far as Traverse City and Grandville to Brighton and Saginaw. Serra also has locations in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, Ohio, and Tennessee.

The company is on pace to sell 80,000 vehicles nationwide in 2023.

Their success wouldn’t be possible without a dedicated team of associates working hard every day selling and servicing thousands of vehicles, Matt Serra said. The company believes strongly in supporting the growth of their team members and promoting from within.

Outside view of three Al Serra Car dealerships from left to right: Mazda, Buick GMC and Honda.

“We believe wholeheartedly that the strongest asset of any organization is its people,” said Joe Serra. “So, we look for the best people and do everything we can to help them achieve their career goals, too.”

The Serras say they love the car business for many reasons — especially the way it allows them to positively affect the lives of their customers, their associates, and their communities.

“We think about the business as a platform to have a big impact on others and that’s ultimately what drives us to grow,” said Matt Serra. “We know the business, we’re good at the business. And as we grow, it gives other folks the opportunity for career growth and development.”

The Serras also have a long history of philanthropy.

Joe Serra’s mother, Lois, always found ways to support the community in a very quiet way. Like her son and grandson, she never wanted attention for her good works.

“I can think of very few people that can go their whole their life always thinking of others first,” said Joe Serra in a Flint Journal article when his mother died in 2012.

The family established the Serra Foundation in 1997 and continue giving back to charitable organizations across the country that help drive communities forward.

But the people of Genesee County will always hold a warm place in their hearts.

Outside view of three Al Serra Car dealerships from left to right: Subaru, Kia and Cadillac.

“I do business in seven different states and obviously a lot of different counties … but there’s something special about Genesee County,” said Joe Serra. “I think it starts with the people. The people are all hardworking and they care about each other. They all give back — and that’s what we try to do as well.”
The Serras say they have every intention of growing the business for another 50 years.

In April 2022, Joe Serra passed the mantle of day-to-day operations to his son as the first step in fully transitioning the family business to its third generation. For the foreseeable future, Joe Serra says he’ll continue focusing on growing the company.

“We are definitely committed to the future,” Joe Serra said. “Matt is extremely capable and has a long runway ahead of him, which makes it very exciting.”