Local GM dealers breath a sigh of relief

By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - Thursday it was Chrysler. Now, it's GM. Chevy, Buick, Pontiac, Cadillac and GMC dealers across the country were watching the mail, waiting to see if they'll be in business next fall.

General Motors says about 1,100 under-performing dealers should have received notices Friday explaining their sales agreements would not be renewed in October 2010. Some East Texas car lots were waiting for news on pins and needles. At Lively GM in Longview they are resting easier.

"Resting easier...listen, I'm celebrating," exclaimed John Ray, Sales Manager for Lively GM.

Lively's has been dealing cars for more than 40 years. Ray has been there for more than three decades. The last few days have been nerve racking.

"The Fed-Ex man came today and there wasn't anything for us, so we've been high-fiving around here ever since," he said.

"I know the Lord's got a plan for me, and if it's not being a GM dealer in Gilmer, then that's what I got to accept," said Richard Yazell.

His family has been in business since 1966. And he plans to be in the future. No letter can for him either but, these days, selling cars, is hard.

"I don't know any dealer that's been performing up to the standards in the last two or three years," said Yazell.

17 million cars were sold in the United States two years ago. Last year, that number dropped to 14 million. This year, auto makers hope to clear the 10 million mark. We spoke with General Motors North America VP of Vehicle Sales, Mark LaNeve, about the decision.

"It's been a difficult process...we took it very seriously," said LaNeve. "Many of the ones that are receiving the letter I know personally. It's not something we didn't do without a lot of deliberation."

"There's really nothing positive about somebody losing their business," said Ray. "It's a loss of people's livelihood."

But Ray says unlike the situation with Chrysler, which could shut down dealers within the next few weeks, GM dealers have time to wind down their business.

"[It] gives us 18 months for an orderly transition...for those dealers to be able to sell down their inventory, continue to take care of their customers," said Ray. "It's just a lot better deal."

They are grateful for the opportunity to do just that - deal.

"We want to be here for our customers," said Yazell.

"We've been a dealer since 1967...and we're excited about being a dealer for the next 42 years," said Ray.

General Motors said the dealers who were notified, averaged about 35 car sales each year and would not be viable in their future restructuring plans. GM is not releasing a list of rejected dealers, but we contacted nearly two dozen in our viewing area, and none have reported receiving a notice.

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