Shame, shame on Ford Motor
Boy, just when all the dedicated, hard-working, customer-oriented 'independent' car dealers thought they had read and seen it all, Ford Motor Co. pulls off the biggest fumble of the 20th century in Indianapolis.
I guess the factory has learned nothing from history. Let me tell you a story that is similar to the one that is unfolding at Ford.
I am a second-generation dealer. In the 1940s and 1950s, my father owned a multiline dealership in New Westminster, British Columbia, near Vancouver.
One of his franchises was International Harvester. The truck company had a factory branch in Vancouver. It wasn't a level playing field. My father couldn't get product that sold. If he did get product, the branch would beat him on the deal.
My heart goes out to all the small dealers outside the Indianapolis metropolitan market. Project 2000? It will be theft from rural independent auto dealers without compensation.
Shame, shame, shame on Ford Motor Co. I cannot believe that this blunder is taking place. Ford says its strength lies in its dealer organization. Perhaps Ford should practice what it preaches.
R.W. 'BILL' COPPING
South Coast Ford Sales Ltd.
Sechelt, British Columbia
Ford overlooks the 'key' in Indy
I have been following the Ford Motor Co. plan for Indianapolis. My father and I operated a dealership in Columbus, Ind., 40 miles south of Indianapolis, and I was the Buick rep in the area in the 1950s.
I believe Ford is about to make a monumental blunder because it is overlooking one vital element: people. Where will Ford get people who will work 70 to 80 hours a week? Where will Ford get people who will tolerate the abuse of dissatisfied customers making impossible demands?
Who will sweat out the finance contracts with the lending institutions? And who will train, nurture and develop the employees for the future?
Paychecks motivate people only up to a point. The only way to put fire in the belly of an automobile man is to give him control!
The fascinating element is that nothing will stop Ford from making this move. Five to seven years from now, when the executives who made this decision have retired, their replacements will be asking, 'What the hell went wrong in Indianapolis?'
By that time, Ford's market share there will have slipped to 12 percent (from 21 percent now), and its Customer Satisfaction Index will be half of its national average.
I'm sure there will be joy in Dearborn each time the monthly financial statement shows the Indianapolis project has broken even. That, after an expenditure of several hundred million dollars.
Not to mention the fact that the lives of several hundred good people will have been altered forever.
PAUL L. HOLT
New Carlisle, Ohio
The writer is a retired auto dealer.
Ex-dealer decries poor salesmanship
I read Rick Kranz's May 26 column about shopping for a van. I've been retired from the retail auto industry for 26 years, and his experience arouses my ire. Nothing has changed!
As a dealer, I tried (successfully) to develop auto sales as a profession, but today's retail auto marketing is a shambles.
My two sons are dealership sales managers, one for Lincoln-Mercury; the other for Chevrolet-Jeep. Their lament is the same as mine and Kranz's: no professionalism or pride in selling.
Poor schooling or poor training in product results in lost sales.
Behind the suit: Honda-Republic
The federal complaint that American Honda filed against Republic Industries is quite different from Toyota's action against Republic.
Toyota is merely seeking to block a dealership acquisition, whereas Honda seeks an injunction and financial compensation.
I suspect that Honda's real intent is to get Republic to limit its acquisitions. All other public companies have already signed such an agreement with Honda.
Significantly damaging disclosures are implied in the lawsuit (relating to past judgments/settlements tied to H. Wayne Huizenga's prior business dealings). The threat of such disclosures and the resulting impact on the price of Republic's stock give Honda considerable leverage.
These are the most significant claims in Honda's lawsuit:
Conflicts of interest based on an extremely close relationship with competitors. This refers primarily to Republic's agreements with General Motors relating to volume purchase agreements with rental car companies and financial guarantees GM has provided.
Damage to Honda and Acura brands, commingling of trademarks.
Consolidation may lead to higher prices.
Interference with existing contractual relationships.
Republic's lack of proven ability and experience.
A business model that favors used cars.
Ability to raise necessary capital is doubtful.
A controversy is brewing about Republic's pooling-of-interests method of accounting for acquisitions.
The Financial Accounting Standards Board has proposed eliminating or restricting the practice.
It allows Republic to vastly overstate earnings by 'adopting' to profits of acquired companies. In fact, a strong case could be made that Republic's primary motivation for acquiring new-car dealerships is the profit they provide.
JEREMY P. ANWYL
Marketec Systems Inc.
Santa Ana, Calif.
Reader finds story offensive
Your publication of the story titled 'Executive Decision' (May 5) is totally out of character and was ill-advised. It is difficult for us to understand how you ever allowed it to be printed in your newspaper.
We do not support that lifestyle as being normal and cannot support anyone who does. You have attempted to do so by printing it. Please cancel our subscription immediately.
JAMES M. GREGORY
Triple M Motors
EPA exec raps claim by SplitFire
In your March 24 issue, you published an article about the consent agreement between SplitFire Inc. and the Federal Trade Commission.
You indicated that SplitFire Inc., marketer of SplitFire spark plugs, has agreed to stop advertising that the plugs improve fuel efficiency and engine performance until it can back up its claims. The article added that a SplitFire executive said the company cannot conduct scientific tests because there are no industry standards for evaluating spark plugs.
The executive's statement is misleading. The FTC's action was based on testing done by the EPA's National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The tests used both the FTP and HFET procedures. Those are the test procedures used to certify light-duty cars and trucks prior to sale.
Cars were tested with original-equipment, aftermarket and SplitFire plugs. Any emissions or fuel-economy improvements caused by the SplitFire plugs would have been detected in this testing.
Vehicle Programs and
EPA National Vehicle and
Fuel Emissions Laboratory
Ann Arbor, Mich.
GM does fine; new cars don't
As a General Motors dealer who remembers when new-car departments were profitable and market share was over 50 percent, I find it discouraging that GM can post a record $1.8 billion first-quarter profit when its market share continues to diminish.
How many GM dealers can boast of the best gross profit in 10 years for the new-car department? This is definitely not a win-win situation nor an equitable partnership.
To add insult to injury, GM has just axed the carryover allowance. I wonder what's next on Ron Zarrella's agenda.
DEAN S. HAUPT
President and General Manager
Rancho Grande Motors Inc.
San Luis Obispo, Calif.