East Texas dealerships wait on General Motors

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - KTRE attended a telephone news conference Friday morning during which the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for General Motors said the company does not want to get into a legal battle with dealers, however, he emphasized that GM is moving forward with its restructuring plan, which includes phasing out about 1,600 dealers over the next year.

Owner of Rex Perry Autoplex, Rex Perry said, "You never know, it's a lot of pressure.  Never know what's coming down the pipe."

It's not easy playing the waiting game.

"It's got the entire dealer body anxious at this point and time.  To sit here and not know, you've worked your whole life to build a business to just have it cut out from underneath you and not knowing it makes dealers pretty anxious," Owner of Wright Motor Company Paul Wright said.

However, he's confident Wright Motor Company will be okay.

"I'm optimistic.  I think we're in good shape, I don't think that they would have entered into a franchise agreement with me and then kill it just a couple months later," Wright said.

GM indicated in a telephone conference Friday that the writing was on the wall for some dealers, but the ones KTRE talked to remain positive.

"You would like to think if General Motors were to do away with this store, what in the world would they be thinking," Perry said.

General Manager of Clifton Chevrolet, John Clifton said, "Actually, we've been very blessed from the standpoint that our business has been very good."

Some dealers were ready to shift gears and help if they needed to.

"We're all in competition, but we're all friends and have been for some time," said Wright.

Although some dealers anticipate business as usual, that's not the case for everyone.

"Any loss of business, I really certainly feel for anybody that finds themselves in that position, you know, it's a tragic situation, touches many lives and we all hope the best for anybody that maybe didn't end up as fortunate as we did," Clifton said.

During the GM conference call, the company indicated that the dealers that receive notices will have a little time to find a new business direction.   If they are phased out, their Sales and Service agreement will simply not be renewed with GM in 2010.

As of Friday night, none of the GM dealers in the KTRE viewing area said they had received notification that their dealership was on the list for termination.