JAMIE LaREAU

Southern dealers say good riddance to Isaac, but Midwesterners welcome its remnants

Automotive News | August 31, 2012 - 3:03 pm EST

Missouri dealer Lynn Thompson is consumed by the weather reports.

In a soft Missouri drawl, Thompson repeatedly expresses a desperate hope that the remnants of what once was Hurricane Isaac will reach his community.

“This rain we get now won’t be able to save our crops this year,” said Thompson, co-owner of Thompson Sales Co. in Springfield, Mo. “But it will help for next year. So that’s how important this rain is this weekend.”

Thompson said his pickup sales through July are down 35 percent from the year-ago period. It’s mostly because drought-stricken crops have hindered many farmers’ purchasing power.

But Thompson is optimistic as he methodically combs through the weather reports, which predict that Springfield will get from 2 to 14 inches of rain this weekend.

“Our sales will pick up almost immediately if we get enough rain,” he said. “It will help people’s mental attitudes to say, ‘Everything will be all right.’”

Springfield, like many parts of the Midwest, desperately needs rain. It is in the middle of a 14-month drought, Thompson said. The area typically gets 22 inches of snow each winter. It got just 3 inches this past winter, he said. And the summer drought has left a local lake 15 feet lower than usual, he said.

The water shortage not only impacts Thompson’s pickup sales. He has had to make adjustments in other parts of his operations.

“We have turned off our water on the grass. We are not washing customers’ cars in service. And the detailing team just sprays the vehicle wet, then washes it by hand before quickly rinsing it off,” Thompson said. “We’re just trying to save as much water as we can.”

And that’s why this Midwestern dealer will continue to monitor the forecast and will embrace a storm that many Southern dealers are likely glad to be rid of.

Jamie LaReau covers auto dealers for Automotive News.Jamie LaReau covers auto dealers for Automotive News.

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