News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

May 15, 2009

GM dealers tense as closings announced

General Motors begins notifying 1,100 dealerships that they will be dropped

TERRE HAUTE — Friday was yet another tense day for many people in the car business in the Wabash Valley and around the country.

General Motors began notifying many of its dealerships – 1,100 in total — that their services would no longer be necessary.

“No news is good news,” said Dale Warnick of Dale Warnick Chevrolet in Rockville, a dealership with about 11 employees. As of late Friday afternoon Warnick had received no notification from GM. “I don’t know anybody who has,” he said.

Unlike the notifications sent Thursday morning to nearly 800 Chrysler dealerships from Chrysler Corporation, GM apparently contacted only dealerships the company plans to close. Chrysler notified all of its dealers about their status. Chrysler also published a list of soon-to-be closed dealerships, while GM did not.

“As independently-owned businesses, dealer owners will make their own decisions if and when they want to make this information public,” GM said, in a news release issued Friday. Also unlike Chrysler, GM is not calling the notifications final.

“Please understand that our planning in this regard is not finalized, and we are prepared to give you until the end of the month to submit any information you would like us to know,” stated the closing-notification letter to GM dealers. A copy of the letter was obtained by the Tribune-Star.

Owners and employees of GM dealerships all around the Wabash Valley spent Friday watching nervously for Federal Express delivery trucks. The notification letters were sent via Fed Ex.

“We were waiting with anticipation,” said Mark Fuson, owner of Fuson Pontiac, Buick, Cadillac and GMC in Terre Haute, which employs around 70 people.

Fed Ex makes several deliveries to the dealership each day, he said. With each delivery, tension rose then fell again as no notification arrived.

“We were pleased,” the third-generation GM dealer said with understatement. “Our hope and our plan is to continue to represent General Motors for a long time.”

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