Serra Toyota of Decatur

In Wake of Record Hailstorms, Alabama Dealership Makes it Clear: ‘We’re Here to Help’
by Dan Miller
July/August 2018
Extreme circumstances call for extreme measures.
Such was the stance taken by Serra Toyota of Decatur when vehicles in the communities surrounding the northern Alabama dealership were damaged in a series of devastating hailstorms last spring.

Here to Help
When severe hailstorms damaged cars in northern Alabama, Serra Toyota of Decatur came up with innovative solutions to help affected customers.

That included a barrage of record-breaking hailstones on March 19. Craig Mann, a reporter with The Cullman Tribune, preserved one such specimen in his freezer. The National Weather Service in Huntsville later confirmed the ice ball was 5.38 inches in diameter and weighed 9.8 ounces.


“I’ve never seen anything like it before, and I’ve lived here my entire life,” says Serra Toyota General Manager Michael Mcleod. “We could see the storm coming, so we shut down the dealership and gave our employees a chance to get home before we took the hit.”
Many customers, though, weren’t able to find shelter for their vehicles in time.
“A lot of them were a total loss,” says Mcleod. “You couldn’t make them look that bad even if you’d taken a baseball bat to them.”
In response, Serra Toyota leveraged its local media contacts to spread the word that it was there to help. For a lucky few, that meant making repairs. But for most, the dealership’s assistance took the form of buying back each damaged vehicle “for the highest possible purchase price” and offering $500 toward the purchase of a new or used replacement. Mcleod says nearly 50 customers chose the latter option.
“It was a 50/50 mix of returning customers and new customers,” he says. “In one case, we had an entire family — mother, father, daughter and son – that needed to replace all four of their cars.
“I certainly hope our customers never have to go through anything like that again.”
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