Penske surveys New Jersey store damage: 'It was devastating'
Penske said of his store visit: “The most disconcerting situation was the look on the people’s faces.”
Penske Automotive Group CEO Roger Penske found devastation when he visited his company's dealerships in Jersey City, N.J., on Wednesday, Oct. 31.
"You could feel it as you drove into Jersey City," he told Automotive News. "There were no street lights, no red-green-stop-and-go lights at all. All the businesses were dark. There was a residue of wood and trees and automobiles floating."
When he got to the company's Toyota store there, its biggest Toyota store in the country, "it was devastating," Penske said. "It was a store we'd just done a corporate identity on, and the oil drums had overflowed in the shop and rolled out into the showroom.
"It was a pretty sorry sight," he said. "The most disconcerting situation was the look on the people's faces, to not really know where we were going other than the fact that we had to dig our way out."
But Penske credited those employees for coming together quickly to clean up the dealerships and get them back on line. Company managers told employees to ensure their own well-being and that of their families first.
Penske Automotive, the second-largest dealership group in the country, lost a minimum of three to four days of business at each store in the storm-damaged area, Penske said. Some dealerships remained without power and phone service on Friday.
Affected were 36 stores in New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and the Washington area. Those dealerships represented 17 percent of the company's retail unit volume and revenue during the third quarter.
The New Jersey stores took the brunt of the storm, with Penske's three stores in Jersey City suffering the most damage.
Those stores -- Toyota, Nissan and Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep locations -- flooded with up to 4 feet of water in the showrooms and service shops. More than 750 vehicles suffered water damage.
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