This past month, the Utah automobile industry lost one of its most prominent members when Jerry Seiner, the founder of Jerry Seiner Dealerships, passed away after a long battle with brain cancer, according to a press release by Seiner’s family. Jerry was survived by Shari, his wife, his three children, and four grandchildren. He also leaves behind a business family of 350 employees of Jerry Seiner Dealerships. We’d like to take some time to honor this class act of the Utah auto industry…

Early life

Although he achieved acclaim in Utah auto dealership industry, Jerry Seiner (born Gerald John Seiner) was actually born in Dearborn, Michigan, in 1941. From a young age, Jerry had been around cars and had a love of automobiles. His dad was an electrician who worked for the legendary Ford Motor Company, and eventually became the personal electrician of Henry Ford, himself.

After working in the advertising industry with the Wall Street Journal and Detroit News, Jerry returned to his roots and purchased an auto dealership in 1975, in Cadillac, Michigan (a name familiar to anyone who knows luxury cars).

Building an auto dealership empire

After striking a business deal with Chevrolet, Jerry Seiner wanted to expand his business operations, which led him to Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1980, when he purchased the Duaine Brown Chevrolet dealership.

After relocating to Utah, Jerry took a personable approach to grow his business, notably saying in a 2013 interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, “When I came to Utah, I knew that if I could quickly sell everyone a car, I would be rich in four years, but I also knew that if I didn’t take care of people, I’d be bankrupt in 10.”

Over the next 30 years after purchasing his first dealership in Utah, Jerry would grow his business from 60 employees to over 350 employees over 11 Jerry Seiner Dealerships franchises. He grew beyond Chevrolet, as well, and eventually sold Cadillac, Kia, Buick, GMC, and Nissan, among other brands.

Recent retirement

In 2013, Seiner retired from the head of Jerry Seiner Dealerships, selling most of the business off to Chris Hemmersmeier, his son-in-law. Since then, Jerry has been a notable philanthropist in Utah, opting to to contribute and mobilize to help the refugee and homeless populations of Salt Lake City.

Jerry’s passing is a loss to all of Utah, but his contributions to the auto industry and humanitarian causes will not soon be forgotten.