Auto dealer Albert Serra died April 1 from complications of diabetes at his home in Grand Blanc, Mich. He was 77.
Serra founded Serra Investments, which owned more than 20 dealerships nationwide. In 2000, his son Joe bought the business, which now is called Serra Automotive Inc. The privately held group of 17 stores ranks No. 33 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 dealership groups in the United States, with 2005 group revenue of $687.5 million and new-vehicle retail sales of 17,256 units.
Albert Serra started in the automotive business in 1953 as a salesman. In 1965, he invested in his first dealership, Oliver Ford, in Flint, Mich. A few years later, he sold Oliver Ford to purchase a Chevrolet store in Ferndale, Mich., with his brother-in-law Jack Cauley. The store, Cauley/Serra Chevrolet, was the first of many GM franchises he would operate. Cauley/Serra Chevrolet has since closed.
Serra is remembered for teaching others how to advance in the industry.
"Al Serra was a terrific dealer himself, but what was even more impressive was the instrumental role he played in developing other people in the industry, helping them become great dealers," said GM CEO Rick Wagoner in a statement released by Serra Automotive.
Serra said that making a success of the Saturn brand was one of the most rewarding parts of his career. He held one of the first Saturn franchises.
"Al will always be considered one of the 'fathers' of the Saturn brand," said Saturn General Manager Jill Lajdziak.