BMW of Mobile (formally Grady Automotive)
On-the-Job Training Program
Cars and Treating People Right Are Family Traditions
Kelly Grady knows all about cars. He has been around them his entire life, working in the car business since he was just in the sixth grade. For Grady, the car business is a family tradition that he is passing on to his own children. His oldest son, seventeen year-old Joe, is working in the first position that Grady himself had, as a car washing attendant. He says his father believed that it was the best way to start off learning the business—at the very bottom—and Kelly Grady agrees wholeheartedly.
Grady’s father started Grady Automotive in 1950 when he bought Strickley Buick from Mr. Quigley, the owner that same year. At that time, it was located on Saint Louis Street in downtown Mobile and had just 10 employees. Now operating on large lots located on Government Street/Highway 90 and McVay Drive, the automotive group is celebrating its 56th year in business and is going strong, with well over 150 employees and as the authorized dealer for many of the top automotive brands in the world.
Kelly Grady, Vice President and General Manager, runs the company along with his two older brothers, Don and Gary. His two older sisters opted not to work in the business, which is thriving. Today, Grady Automotive is a factory-authorized BMW, Buick, Crosslander, Isuzu, and Mazda dealer located in Mobile, Alabama. They also have an automotive group located in Brewton, Alabama, where they are the factory-authorized dealer for Buick, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Cadillac and GMC Trucks.
The Grady’s also started Grady Marine in 1999, which supplies marine supplies and boats, motors and ATVs for the entire Gulf Coast, covering Alabama, Florida and Louisiana, including brand names such as Blackjack, Blue Wave, Contender, Dura Craft, Hewes, Pathfinder, Sea Craft and Sea Hunt. Grady Marine is also a dealer for Mercury and Yamaha outboard motors, as well as Polaris ATVs.
Grady attended UMS Preparatory School, graduating there in 1982 before it merged with Wright Preparatory School, then went on to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1986. He says his father gave him one week of vacation—then Grady quickly began his formal career with the company, a career that has spanned twenty years, as a salesperson in the used car division.
Grady, who has worked in every single division of the company except the body shop, says that he learned more about the car business in the used car sales position than he would have in any other. He learned to appraise car values, buying cars at auction and from individuals, learned how to sell and negotiate a fair deal, and says today that it is in the used car division that he really learned how to best work with customers.
Grady, a true people person, says the secret to working with customers is to give them what they want—which is really just a fair deal and a smiling face. Says Grady, “There are many different things that make companies successful, but the main thing is that if you treat people right, they’ll come back. It is as simple as that and that is what has made Grady Automotive successful and is why we get repeat business and have grown over the years. People trust us and they come back because they know where they stand with us.”
Grady, born and raised in Mobile, is married to his high school sweetheart, Ann, whom he started dating in his junior year of high school, and the couple has three children. Besides Joe, their oldest son, already working with the company, they have a daughter, Amy, age 15, and a son, Sam, age 11. Grady says that Sam in particular loves the cars and when he visits the dealerships, makes a game out of sitting in all of them and learning about them.
Grady says he believes in passing on the Grady family and business tradition. All the children will have the option to work in the business if they desire and his son Joe has already started, but as they are all three extremely active with sports and other school activities at UMS-Wright Preparatory School, they don’t have as much time on their hands as Grady did when he was a boy. Grady is confident that passion for the family business will come to his children in time and says that life is all about family and giving back to the community.
True to that belief, Grady serves on several boards in Mobile, determined to make a difference. Grady is a member of the Mobile Works Board of Directors and serves as the chairman of its marketing committee. He came to believe strongly in the mission of Mobile Works when he worked with Belinda Thomason, Mobile Works job developer, to hire several employees a few years ago, many of whom are still on board with the company as valued employees.
Says Grady, “Mobile Works helps people when they are down on their luck or just having life transitions and need a career change. Then Mobile Works steps in with the resources for the training these people need. It’s an honorable thing and Mobile Works is doing a great service to Mobile and the Mobile business community. Finding quality applicants and then helping businesses pay for their training is such a win-win relationship that I just had to get involved.” True to that belief, Grady is currently working with Mobile Works again to hire several open positions for automotive technicians and automotive body technicians.
Besides Mobile Works, Grady is on the boards of Regions Bank and UMS-Wright Preparatory School, which he says is “home away from home” due to his involvement in with the school and his children’s attendance there. Grady is also on the board of directors for Young Life, a Christian-based organization that gets God involved in children’s lives by giving them a Christian-based place to meet new friends, have fun and hang out, and get on and stay on the right path. Grady is extremely proud of the organization and the group also has an urban youth ministry that reaches inner-city youth and works with them on the same issues.
Grady has also been involved with several other civic and community organizations in Mobile and the surrounding area during the past several years, including serving on the boards of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, Fellowship of Christian Athletes of Southern Alabama and the Gulf Coast Conservation Organization.
At Mobile Works, we understand why Grady Automotive is so successful, because just like Kelly Grady, we believe that by treating people right, they come back to do business—again and again. And we are proud to have Kelly Grady on the Mobile Works Board of Directors, helping to lead us in the right direction.