QUITMAN — A family tradition that began in the 1920s was extended this week when Clay Griner was named franchise dealer of Griner Chevrolet-Pontiac. Griner, 32, was officially awarded the position in a brief ceremony Thursday at the dealership at 8640 U.S. 84 West. Tommy Griner, Clay’s father, and Craig Griner, Clay’s brother, joined Michael M. Moore, Chevrolet zone manager for the Southeast Region, and Dennis Szeliga, Chevrolet district sales manager, to congratulate the new dealer Thursday. Clay Griner also retains his current title as general manager position at the dealership, a position he’s held since 2002. He replaces his uncle, Larry Griner, as dealer. Larry Griner remains chairman of the board of Griner Automotive Group. Tommy Griner, who has operated car dealerships in Valdosta for 40 years, is president of Griner Automotive Group. Craig Griner is general manager of Griner Pontiac and Cadillac and Griner Nissan, both in Valdosta. The Griner automotive history stretches back to the 1920s when Walter Henry Allen, Tommy Griner’s wife’s great grandfather, was the Chevrolet dealer in Quitman. The Griner Chevrolet-Pontiac dealership has been in operation since the 1940s and moved from downtown Quitman to the current location in 1996. Clay Griner got an early start in his automotive career, washing cars at his dad’s dealership in 1985, then working in the parts department from age 14 to 18. He sold his first car there at age 18 just after finishing high school. Although he says business has been “challenging,” the newest Griner “dealer” says General Motors’ recovery plans are working. “We’re getting business from around the region, from Thomasville, Tallahassee and throughout South Georgia,” Griner said. The Chevrolet regional representative concurred. “GM’s turnaround plan was affected and has had a positive impact on local dealers’ business,” said zone manager Michael Moore. “The pricing strategy that is customer focused resulted in increased residual value for our customers.”

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