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Color: green
Food: catfish
Quote: if the conditions are right, let's go all in
Season: fall
Birthplace
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Interview Description:

Biography |

Interview Date: 10/3/2016

Auto sales entrepreneur Gregory Baranco was born in 1948 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Dr. Beverly Victor Baranco, Jr. and Evelyn Baranco. Baranco’s father was a dentist and the sixth Supreme Knight of the Knights of Peter Claver, and his mother was a schoolteacher and guidance counselor. B.V. Baranco, Sr., his paternal grandfather, was the president of the Peoples Industrial Life Insurance Company and the Grand Master for the Louisiana chapter of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows. Baranco attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, where he graduated in 1971 with his B.S. degree in business administration. During his college years in Baton Rouge, he met his wife, Juanita Powell Baranco, who at the time was a student at Louisiana State University, and they married in 1969.

Baranco originally specialized in pre-med at Southern University, but changed his focus after working at a stamping plant for the Ford Motor Company during the summer of 1969. He got his first job in sales in 1971 for Audubon Ford in Baton Rouge, where he worked his way up to finance manager. During the mid-1970s, Baranco was accepted to the General Motors Dealer Development Program, which assigned him to train as a GM dealership owner at Royal Oldsmobile in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1978, Baranco and his wife founded Baranco Pontiac, Inc., which began as a dealership in East Point, Georgia, and relocated to Decatur, Georgia in 1981. During the 1980s, he was one of the lead developers for Sandstone Shores, a 66-home residential development that created a predominantly African American community in Decatur, Georgia. Baranco moved his focus as an automobile dealer into luxury cars, acquiring an Acura dealership in Tallahassee, Florida in 1988 that he later moved to Atlanta, Georgia; and opening Mercedes-Benz of Buckhead in Atlanta, in 2001, in partnership with his wife and former mayor Andrew Young. When First Southern Bank in Atlanta was founded in 1988, Baranco was its first chairman of the board. He worked with Citizens Trust Bank of Atlanta and its chairman Herman Russell to negotiate a merger between the two banks in 1997, and stayed on as vice chairman of the newly merged bank until 2003.
Baranco was honored as a Best of the Best Dealer of the Year by Mercedes-Benz USA in 2012 and was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers in 2010. He is a past president of the Metropolitan Atlanta Automobile Dealers Association and past chairman of the Atlanta Life Insurance Company, holds an honorary doctorate from Southern University, and is a longtime member of One Hundred Black Men of Dekalb County, the United Way and the Dekalb County Task Force on Efficiency in Government.

Baranco and his wife have four children: Evelyn, Grene, Janelle, and Gregory, Jr. Evelyn is a medical doctor, and the other three children have worked with their parents at Baranco Automotive Group.

Gregory Baranco was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 3, 2016.

Speaker Bureau Notes: