It’s a bit of a cliché to say that someone is a “self-made man,” but I believe I’ll apply that moniker to Randy Marion anyway. This man has built a brand among auto dealers unlike any other in our area, and throughout the Southeast, actually. His name represents integrity, creativity, generosity, and family. Randy Marion Automotive is one of the most supportive, community-minded businesses in our area. It is through his generous spirit and civic commitment that Randy makes some of his most important decisions. “In 1927, my grandfather and six other men started a church with a critical mission to help those in need in Charleston, West Virginia,” Randy shared. “If it’s true that we learn all the important things in our life in kindergarten, then it’s doubly true I learned all that’s important to me in Charleston Mountain Mission Church. At the Mission, I drove the truck and stocked the shelves. We were all volunteers there, but we worked like it was the family business.”
A BIT OF HISTORY
If you are of an age to remember, you’ll know that in the 1990s, Mooresville was a much smaller town. Randy Marion established his first car dealership in downtown Mooresville with the intent of moving closer to I-77 as soon as possible. He broke ground in 1991 on his new property, the start of his dealership on NC Highway 150, when it was a two-lane road. “I can remember standing there at the showroom door just watching the cars pass by,” Randy recalled. “It’s all I know. In 1973, I started working in sales, and in 1986, I moved my family to the Carolinas. I had an investor, and started with 18 cars on the lot and thirteen employees, including me.” Highway 150 is now a busy four-lane boulevard, and Randy Marion’s presence there is unmistakable. His Highway 150 General Motors dealership has grown to approximately 56 acres, and his team proudly reports sales numbers that are now quite different. In 2016, Randy Marion Automotive Group sold upwards of 14,000 cars, and now employs approximately 450 people. For the last seven years in a row, Randy Marion Chevrolet Buick Cadillac in Mooresville has been recognized as the #1 GM Volume Dealership in the Southeast. “If you drive from here to Key West, as you pass by General Motors dealers, well, we outsold them all,” Randy explained.
Today, Randy Marion Automotive Group has multiple showrooms in Mooresville, Hickory, Huntersville, and Statesville where you can see and drive Buick, Chevy, Cadillac, GMC, Ford, Lincoln, and Subaru new and pre-owned cars. Fleet sales, parts and service, and collision repairs are available throughout the locations.
IT’S A FAMILY AFFAIR
If you know anything about Randy Marion, you know that his family, his church, and this community are key in his life. “You never see my dad alone,” Jennifer Marion Mills told me. “He loves people, and they love him. We’re very proud of him…I just want to learn a portion of what he knows.” Jennifer is vice president of marketing; her brother, Randy, is general manager of the Mooresville store.
Betty Marion, Randy’s bride of 47 years, is owner and manager of Southeastern Fleet Management, a woman-owned corporation that sells cars nationwide. Randy and Betty were high school sweethearts. Jennifer said back in the day sometimes her mom would bring dinner over to the dealership and the whole family would eat there together. They still do that quite a lot. Betty was a founding member of HealthReach Community Clinic, and serves on boards or volunteers with charitable groups such as United Way, Hospice & Palliative Care of Iredell County, and the Mooresville Foundation for Excellence in Education.
Randy Marion was instilled with a giving heart at the Mountain Mission in West Virginia when he was growing up, and his generous compassion continues in our area where he and Betty are generous supporters of Williamson’s Chapel United Methodist Church, the Boy Scouts, Mooresville Soup Kitchen, the Christian Mission, the Heart Ball, Rotary International, Lowe’s YMCA, the United Way, Cannon School, Mooresville Graded Schools…and the list goes on and on.
And, if you know anything at all about Randy Marion Automotive, you know that Randy Marion is THE KING OF PRICE. How do you know? Jennifer told you. “I’ve always been part of this business. I watched Dad build it one person at a time since I was in high school,” Jennifer said. “I was a member of the Charlotte Hornets’ HoneyBees and the Carolina Panthers’ Top Cats. My dad watched me perform during the games, and he thought I should give our TV commercials a try. He said we’d try it for a couple months, and now it’s been almost 20 years!”
Family fame continues now as Alexandria, Jennifer’s beautiful 18-year-old daughter, shines alongside her mom in the iconic TV spots. Alexandria shares her family’s big-hearted approach to life as founder of Give Soap for Hope, a charity that collects toiletries and other essentials for distribution through agencies such as the Soup Kitchen and Christian Mission to folks who need these items. “She’s always included a Bible verse in each bag,” Randy said proudly. “We help by filling the trunk of a Cadillac with donated items from the community, and Alexandria prepares the bags. She’s an amazing young woman.”
Filling out the family, with the possibility that these youngsters might also find their way into the family business, are Jennifer’s other two children, Grey (15), Grant (11), and Randy Jr.’s three children, Randy III (12), Vanessa (10), and Victoria (8). All six grandchildren attend Cannon School, and all are active in sports and various clubs at school, as well as activities outside of school, such as Boy Scouts.
THE LEGACY OF A SELF-MADE MAN
While I visited with Randy, Betty and Jennifer, I was delighted to meet John Roberts, executive director of Mountain Mission. He was having lunch with Randy, as he does often, to talk about the important work of the 2017 iteration of Randy’s grandfather’s startup charity from the early days. “We’ve grown from such humble beginnings. Both of Randy’s grandfathers were involved over the years, and sometimes we stumbled along the way,” John shared, “but Randy and his family are still with us. Last year’s floods in our area were devastating, but we were able to serve over 150 people each day in our soup kitchen while recovery was underway. We’re now feeding over 37,000 hot meals a year, filling 1,300 baskets of food at Christmastime, and our food pantry fills 30-plus orders a week. We couldn’t do this work without Randy Marion.”
Jennifer told me her dad has never forgotten where he comes from. “He helped me understand that this community and our business have blessed us greatly. It is a responsibility, and our desire, to give back to the community that has been so good to us.”
When I started writing this story, I knew it wasn’t really going to be about cars…it was going to be about people. People you will be glad to do business with. Need a new car? Stop by Randy Marion’s. You’ll be glad you did.
Randy Marion Automotive
220 West Plaza Drive • Mooresville, NC
Sales (704) 728-0366 • Service (704) 585-1117