Partnerships — with automakers, financing companies and others — saved Germain Motor Co. during the Great Recession, says Steve Germain, CEO of the Columbus, Ohio, dealership group.
"I think even our partners were not quite sure what to do, and we all felt like we needed each other," Germain told Automotive News.
For Germain, one of the early signs that the downturn would be severe remains especially vivid. In 2008, as it was becoming obvious the auto industry was deteriorating rapidly, Germain recalls seeing the front page of his local newspaper's business section one day. On it was an article talking about the auto group's decreasing sales and falling business.
While Germain typically left the business section of the paper at home for his wife to read, he brought that one to work that day.
"I didn't think that she needed to see it," Germain said, though his wife heard of the front-page story shortly after. "The reality set in at that point in time that we had some challenges ahead of us."
The group lost a Chevrolet store, but Germain said it was not a large part of the group's business. Later, though, the group saw sales at its stores collapse anywhere from 30 to 40 percent.