Who is Gregg Orr, the man behind the business sign?
His name can be seen on marquees all around town, from pre-owned vehicles to boats. But who is Gregg Orr?
He’s just a regular guy who’s married, loves to spend time with his grandchildren, loves to fish and play golf. But he also loves Destin and the region, and is big on customer service.
Orr, 60, is a lifelong resident of Texarkana, Texas, and is the owner/operator of the Gregg Orr Companies, which encompasses a group of car and RV dealerships and marine/boat operations across Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas and Florida.
He began a career in the auto industry in high school working at Orr Chevrolet in Texarkana with his grandfather.
After college, he began working at Orr Chevrolet again in the summer of 1982. He worked in sales and learned the daily operations of each department, including his focus: management. In 1988, Orr took over as general manager of the facility.
Opportunities increased as the years went by and Orr continued to buy more dealerships and grow his automotive group.
Today, he is the owner/operator of 19 auto franchises, multiple boat/marine operations and RV dealerships across the Southeast.
Some of his latest are in Destin.
His first venture in Destin was the Porsche dealership on Airport Road.
Orr was familiar with the Destin area because his dad had retired to the area and they had a condo in Destin.
So, when the Porsche dealership became available, “We bought it. That’s how we got into business down there (about 10 years ago), Orr said.
Feb. 2019 photos:Progress of Gregg Orr Marine and dealership
Since then, he’s opened a Gregg Orr Pre-Owned of Destin on Harbor Boulevard, aka U.S. Highway 98, and most recently Gregg Orr Marine Destin Boat Sales, also in the heart of Destin on U.S. 98.
But he’s not stopping there. Orr plans to open a Porsche and pre-owned car dealership near Sandestin as well as a Marine Service Center off Walton County Road 393 in Santa Rosa Beach sometime this year or early 2022.
“We’re trying to get out there to accommodate all the people who live in between. There’s not really a new car dealership between Fort Walton and Panama City. ... There’s a big gap in there,” he said.
Orr said he also decided to put the Marine Service Center in Santa Rosa Beach because he needed a lot of property to house boats and such.
“We just couldn’t buy enough acreage in Destin … so we’ve got a 5-plus acre site,” he said, noting they will have easy water access at Cessna Landing off CR 393.
“If we need to test drive a boat or something, we can run it right down there and launch it,” he said.
As for the Destin businesses, Orr said one thing just led to the other.
“We had a little used car lot we were renting over on Main Street and just thought the 98 location would give us more exposure,” he said.
“People go through on U.S. 98,” he said.
Orr, who has a house at Watercolor in South Walton, said he runs into people in Panama City Beach playing golf who know about his locations in Destin from making the drive.
“I think people move around the area pretty good. … It’s kind of more of a regional area. And the area is definitely growing,” Orr said.
And he, like many others who travel U.S. 98, will be glad when the road construction is complete.
The new car lot in South Walton will be a new Porsche dealership with pre-owned vehicles as well.
“It’s typical with all car dealerships to sell pre-owned,” Orr said.
As for Gregg Orr Marine Destin Boat Sales, which recently opened on the harbor in Destin, “We’re excited about it,” he said.
Across U.S. 98 next to Sexton’s Seafood, Orr also has a storage lot that showcases several boats.
The marina on the harbor side has 26 slips, with 10 to 15 being used by the business.
“If customers want to come and take a demo ride in one of the boats, we’ll have one in the water ready to go. … They don’t have to come back,” he said.
“We should have something down there close to what you are looking for, and we can take you for a ride immediately,” he added.
Gregg Orr Marine deals in Regulators, Sea Fox and Century boats, to name a few.
“We’re not trying to be a big volume marine dealer, we’re just trying to be more of a smaller operation that can focus on taking care of our customers," Orr said. “Our main focus has been on customer treatment and customer service.”
He said cars and boats are all built better and last longer today.
“So, when you’re buying a product that’s going to last a long time you need to buy from somebody, whether its new or pre-owned, somebody that can stand behind it and take care of you. That’s a big deal to me,” Orr said.
What does Orr do for fun?
In addition to spending time with the grandkids and supporting their sporting activities, he likes to fish and play golf.
“You got it all. … That’s what makes it great down there,” Orr said. “The food, the atmosphere … it's just a beautiful place. It’s just a great place to go, everybody loves going there.”
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