Serra Automotive acquires Champaign, Ill.-based BMW-Honda dealership
By Jeremy Allen Michigan Live June 6, 2013
Serra Automotive continued its out-of-state expansion earlier this week as the Grand Blanc-based dealer announced its takeover of the Champaign, Ill.-based Twin City Honda-BMW dealership.
With the acquisition, the Serra Automotive network now has 43 automotive franchises, with 29 dealership locations in seven states, including Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, New Jersey and Colorado.
“The appeal was Champaign more than it was Illinois. Champaign is home to the University of Illinois and it’s a college town,” said Joe Serra, president of Serra Automotive.
“I happen to have a dealership near East Lansing in Okemos and we’ve learned that there are real advantages and stability when dealerships are based where college towns are. Those brands – Honda and BWM – do well with the university population. It also happens to be two brands that we’ve done well within our organization.”
Serra said that the acquisition was about a year in the making – a process much longer than the normal three or four months that it usually takes to close deals.
“We stuck with this deal because it does have some tremendous upside. It’s very rare to find a combination of Honda and BMW on the same site. That was appealing,” he said.
“It gives you a very high line and entry level (price points). Those brands appeal to that community.”
Serra said that his company has plans to continue expanding throughout the state of Michigan and that it’s always looking for opportunities to grow outside the state as well.
The dealerships – which are two separate lots – will be managed by Ben Quattrone, a manager at a local Serra dealership, and David Cartwright, who is from the Champaign area.
“We couldn’t be happier with the highly-qualified people coming on board to fill our top two positions,” said Serra.
He added that when he started in this business, he didn’t imagine that he would be in the position he’s in today, but the company’s aggressive history of acquisition has positioned them to be a top-10 privately held automotive groups in the nation.
“We’re always looking for dealerships. We get calls all the time when dealerships are for sale. In this industry there are sellers and buyers,” Serra said, “and we happen to be buyers. We don’t limit ourselves to just one area.”
According to Serra, the names of the Twin City stores will be changed to Honda of Champaign and BMW of Champaign. The dealerships are located just minutes south of downtown Champaign.
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