Roseland overhauled the service department, hiring a new manager who had a track record of customer service, and that new hire in turn attracted good mechanics. He positioned his dealership to service all makes and models, and the incoming technicians were well-versed in imported vehicles. Roseland said at the time that it was a big part of being able to boost his service business, with the region being "the land of imports."
As the recession took hold, he was forced to halve staff to 14 employees. Remaining personnel had pay reduced, and health insurance was cut. The daily cleaning service was cut, too, so all employees had to pitch in to keep things tidy; Roseland himself was cleaning toilets and taking out the trash.
"It took drastic measures to make it, and it was awful tough," Roseland told Automotive News in 2010.
As his dealership struggled, Roseland remained creative. When a local Ford store closed in 2009, he painted the words "Ford customers welcome" on his store's windows, which faced a local highway. He survived as the last remaining dealer in the town of 11,100.
Last summer, Roseland sold Sonoma Chevrolet to Scott Silveira, whom he had known for years: Silveira had a dealership in Healdsburg, Calif., about 40 miles away.
Roseland had reportedly turned down several offers from large operations in the years since emerging from the economic downturn.
"Small-town dealerships take extra time and effort because they are so relational compared to large stores, which are so much more transactional," Roseland wrote in an email.
Roseland said the sale came after he felt burned out, having weathered the Great Recession with 80- to 85-hour workweeks while cutting expenses to the bone.
"I laid off people until I hit breakeven and I did whatever needed to be done," Roseland wrote. "That's really all there was to it. I did do some damage to myself. I think all those hours pulled from my future, i.e. in the last year I hit the wall like a marathon runner and that was a factor in the sale of my dealership. I guess I was just tired out."