SAVOY — Worden-Martin Buick GMC is now Serra Buick GMC.
Michigan-based Serra Automotive, which bought the Honda-BMW of Champaign in Savoy in 2013, completed its purchase this month of the Worden-Martin dealership in Savoy and its Subaru dealership next door.
Worden-Martin still owns the Ford City, Illini Nissan and Carmart north of Interstate 74 in Champaign, as well as the Vermilion Chevrolet Buick GMC.
“Like anything else, we covet what we see,” said Ben Quattrone, executive manager of Honda-BMW of Champaign. “My office faces the Buick-GMC and Subaru dealership right across the street. You can’t help but say, ‘That’s a beautiful house on the corner. I’d like to have that some day.’”
He said he’s been trying for a couple years “to get folks to the table.”
“They’ve been interested in the dealership for some time,” Worden-Martin President Charlie Shapland said. “They asked if they could make an offer, and we said ‘Sure.’”
President Joseph Serra visited in the fall, and Shapland said, “it was the right price, right time.”
“We had some really good years, and we were able to maximize the value of the stores,” Shapland said.
Shapland and Quattrone declined to share the price.
“It was time to expand and really add brands that make sense,” Quattrone said. “Subaru has a really specific market and buyer, and this community matches up really well with it.”
While Honda has the Ridgeline truck, “now there’s a nice consumer ladder there” with GMC’s trucks and SUVs.
The dealership will also sell Hummer’s upcoming electric vehicles, Quattrone said, calling it the “hidden gem in the acquisition.”
“I’m really excited about the brands we have,” he said.
He also cited the growth of Savoy and southwest Champaign, and “we’re the closest thing to that.”
Serra is keeping nearly all of Worden-Martin’s Savoy employees, with a few long-time employees and corporate officials staying with Worden-Martin at their other locations. Quattrone said that means about 75 employees will be added to his existing 75.
“Now we’re going to function as one, and if the Subaru store is slammed with traffic, and Honda is a little slow, we can get help,” he said.
Shapland said saying farewell to some of his long-time employees was the hardest part of the sale.
“That’s the struggle. Do you want to let people go? And once you work through that, you understand that they’re going to be OK,” he said. “We’ve been successful because of them. … That’s what I’m going to miss.”
After the sale closed Aug. 3 after months of due diligence, Quattrone said: “We’re not done yet. We want to expand the footprint and continue to grow a huge automotive family here in Champaign County.”
While he said there’s nothing specific planned, “I’ve clearly communicated to anyone around me that we would love to acquire any dealership that would become available in the reasonable proximity to Savoy and Champaign.”