Serpentini Auto Group doubles its number of Chevy dealerships with acquisition of three Pat O’Brien Chevrolet sites

by Scott Suttell Crain’s Cleveland Business January 16, 2020

The Serpentini Auto Group, already one of Ohio's largest Chevrolet dealership organizations, just got a lot bigger.

Bob Serpentini, president and founder of the group bearing his name, and partner Ken Ganley on Thursday, Jan. 16, announced the acquisition of three Pat O'Brien Chevrolet dealerships in Medina, Westlake and Willoughby. Terms of the deal, which is effective immediately, were not disclosed. (Pat O'Brien Chevrolet will retain ownership of its Vermilion dealership.)

The addition of the three Pat O'Brien Chevrolet locations gives Serpentini a total of six Chevy dealerships in Northeast Ohio, including its existing operations in Strongsville, Orrville and Tallmadge. Temporary signage with Serpentini branding already is up at the acquired dealerships. Permanent signage should be in place in about a month.

In a phone interview on Thursday morning, Serpentini, 62, said he and Pat O'Brien Chevrolet owner Pat O'Brien "have had a long relationship, a great relationship. We've been competitors, obviously, but good friends. And when you have a great relationship, it makes it easier to do a deal like this."

Serpentini said the two began talking about a deal in October, as O'Brien was looking to step back from the dealership business.

The combined group of six Chevrolet dealerships, when fully integrated, will have annual new-vehicle sales of about 8,000 units, Serpentini said.

He said the group plans to hire about 20-25 people for the new Westlake and Willoughby dealerships, and about 15 for the Medina dealership, primarily in sales and auto technician positions. When the hires are completed, the six-dealership group will have a total of about 500 employees, Serpentini said.

Serpentini said sales and service hours will be expanded at the three acquired locations. Those sites have "fabulous facilities," Serpentini said, so there are no immediate plans for physical changes beyond the signage.

Serpentini bought his first Chevrolet dealership in 1980, at age 22. His roots in the auto dealership business go back even longer, to 1973, when he was a lot boy for the Spitzer auto group.

The auto dealership business rises and falls, to a large extent, with the state of the economy, and it has been riding a strong wave for the last few years.

Serpentini said sales of late are "not off the charts, but it's very solid, and I'll take solid all day long." He said the industry is benefiting from low interest rates, which help both dealers and consumers, and pricing consistency, which has improved the buying experience.