A heartbreaking end for a California Ford dealer

I was sad to read yesterday about the death of Lenny Woods, a former Ford dealer in Chino, Calif. I’d interviewed Lenny in the past, though it had been some time since we last spoke. I remember him as being helpful and generous with his time.

Facing financial disaster, Woods closed Chino Hills Ford in April, according to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. That newspaper reported that Woods was found dead inside his shuttered dealership on Tuesday in what is being investigated as a suicide.

Woods had operated the dealership since 1981. In 2009, during the downturn that pushed many retailers out of business, Woods sought loans from the city of Chino and banks to enable the store’s continued operation.

He told the Daily Bulletin he had pumped much of his money into the dealership to keep the doors open.

“It’s like a runaway train,” he told the newspaper. “I put more and more into it to try and save it, and I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t know what the future holds.”

The financial and emotional struggles many dealers have faced in the aftermath of the industry’s sales collapse have been wrenching. My condolences go out to Lenny’s family and friends.