Jamie LaReau
Jamie LaReau
Retail / F&I Reporter

Dealerships absorb an indirect hit when disaster strikes

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This past week two catastrophic events hit U.S. communities.

On Monday, April 15, three people were killed and more than 170 injured after two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Then, on Wednesday, April 17, a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, blew up. At last count, at least a dozen people were dead, 200 were injured and 60 were still unaccounted for.

While no dealership employees were injured in either incident, dealers and staffers felt the impact.

In Boston, anxiety dominated the entire week as Boston was essentially shut down all day Friday while police pursued the two suspects in front of live national television. Dealers whose stores were near the marathon's finish line were rattled the next day and on alert to any unusual circumstances in or near the dealerships. Dealers told employees to watch out for the community's safety where they could.

In West, Texas, it was shock and awe. A dealership about 1 mile from the blast suffered more than $50,000 in damage. But the dealer is focused on first repairing the community around him. He's set up his dealership as a donation point and is focused on helping repair any damaged vehicles.

Another West, Texas, dealership unofficially has converted itself into a grieving station and donation post to help community members. That store was not damaged, so the general manager, who recently became an ordained Catholic deacon, is giving grief counseling to many local residents.

The Boston and West, Texas, tragedies are different. But they each serve to remind dealers that while selling and servicing cars is their day job, they are at their best being good citizens in their communities.

You can reach Jamie LaReau at jlareau@crain.com. -- Follow Jamie on Twitter

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