By any measure, Lompoc, Calif., should be a fruitful market for Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler and Ram vehicles.
The community of about 40,000 is 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles and 8 miles from the Pacific coast. Major local employers include Vandenberg Air Force Base and a large federal prison complex. Lompoc, the "flower seed capital of the world," is a hub for agriculture, wineries and other businesses that favor the pickups and SUVs that Fiat Chrysler emphasizes.
At RocketTown Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram, though, owner Chris Zikakis finds himself stymied by a warranty service bottleneck. It's not that he doesn't have enough technicians -- Zikakis also owns the adjacent Lompoc Honda, and the two stores can share staff -- but that his technicians can't easily get the highest FCA certification needed for warranty work to be reimbursed.
"If I do some warranty repairs for Chrysler with an unskilled person, I eat it, I pay for it," says RocketTown Service Manager Justin Shores.