It was a miserable year for retailers, thousands of whom lost their franchises.
Dealers in distress
With his Nissan dealership in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., padlocked, dealer Ray Dixon was left to contemplate what went wrong. Nissan terminated the franchise at his money-losing Southern California store, Family Nissan, just two years after he took over with the automaker's encouragement. Dixon said: "Why did this happen? I really don't know."
Dealer Tammy Darvish, co-chair of the Committee to Restore Dealer Rights, spoke on behalf of rejected General Motors and Chrysler dealers at a press conference in Washington, D.C. Darvish, who heads a large dealership group in the Washington area, was flanked by supporters Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., left, and Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md.
The employees of Allen Patch's dealership in Scottsbluff, Neb., were in for a shock when they showed up for work on March 9. Not only was the entire new-vehicle inventory missing, but Patch and two of his top managers had vanished, too. Hours earlier, under cover of darkness, nine trucks had arrived at struggling Legacy Toyota-Ford-Lincoln-Mercury. The convoy loaded 81 vehicles and headed west. Authorities alleged that Patch didn't own the inventory. Toyota Financial Services, Legacy's floorplan lender, said the dealership owed it more than $2 million for vehicles.
The human toll of Chrysler LLC's plan to terminate 789 dealerships was staggering. Marc Treiber, a Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep dealer in Monroe, N.Y., said: "Nineteen years of my life here is nothing more than a quick rinse? Like if you got something on your shoe?"
Ron Abercrombie was bitter after General Motors' decision in May to terminate his dealership in Hartselle, Ala. His father founded Abercrombie Chevrolet in 1956.
Phillip Alderman, a Chevrolet dealer in Talladega, Ala., with the termination letter he received from General Motors in May: "I'm tired of doing business with them."
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