"It was overwhelming," added Laura Biggins, Garber Automotive Group executive assistant, who was heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of the write-in campaign and dealership. "It was really a community-led initiative that brought us to that next step. It was just unbelievable and really humbling to be a part of that and see the support of the community."
The letters, Garber believes, had a "significant impact" on GM's decision to allow his family's flagship store to retain its franchise.
Garber says he has not read all the letters because he becomes "too humbled." However, they are a constant reminder of the bond between the community and the dealership, which one letter referred to as a "mainstay of the community."
"It wasn't in General Motors' best interest to close the store," Garber said. "Everybody won in the long run. Everybody won."
And Garber has made the best of the dealership's second chance. He annually donates roughly $1 million to the area and has grown Garber Automotive Group from eight franchises in 2009 to 19, including the Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram store he was initially pursuing to replace Garber Buick. The Buick dealership made Automotive News' list of the 100 Best Dealerships To Work For in 2014 and 2017. Other Garber stores also have made the list.
"It was an emotional roller coaster. We are very grateful," said Garber, whose dealership group surpassed $1 billion in revenue last year and employs roughly 1,800 people. "I think the experience has made our organization better, and we feel very fortunate that General Motors reversed their decision, and we're proud to represent their products. We don't think anybody does it better than we do, anywhere."