General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner will meet with minority dealers regularly to address concerns over closings of minority-owned franchises and subpar profits at black-owned stores.
In an interview at the GM Minority Dealers Association banquet here Friday, Wagoner said he met with dealers late last year.
He said GM wants to strengthen minority dealers, adding that the closings of minority-owned stores in 2005 were the result of "the dynamics of the business" as GM battles financial losses and tough competition.
Last fall, GM formed a task force to analyze its 98 black-owned stores after being criticized for lagging profits in those stores.
Also, the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers said GM cut 61 franchise agreements with 44 minority dealers in the first half of 2005.
GM said the net number of its minority-owned dealerships dropped from 382 to 362 between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30 last year. GM has about 7,200 U.S. dealerships.
On Friday, GM Minority Dealers Association President Desmond Roberts said GM must create "a renewed partnership as we fight for our survival."
"There have been many casualties," Roberts said in remarks to the dinner crowd. "As we look around, we cannot help but notice that some of those who were here with us last year are not here today." Roberts said that in GM's effort to win minority customers, "the
GMMDA is your most valuable asset - one that you have yet to take full advantage of."
Afterward, Wagoner said GM will work more closely with minority dealers: "I thought Desmond's words tonight were right."
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