Small town car dealerships wait, struggle as automakers ask for bailout - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

GILMER (KLTV)

Small town car dealerships wait, struggle as automakers ask for bailout

As the Big Three automakers - GM, Ford, and Chrysler - scramble to get a plan together to present to Congress, East Texas dealers are getting hit hard. Just days ago, Bob Francis announced he's closing the doors of his Rusk Ford dealership after 31 years in the business. Another Rusk dealer, Greg James' GM and Chrysler, announced it will only sell used cars. Could this be the beginning of the end for the small town, East Texas dealers? KLTV 7's Layron Livingston went to Gilmer and spoke with a couple who don't want to see that happen. They say in East Texas, dealerships do more than just sell cars.

Welcome to Gilmer, a small East Texas town where the car lots may not be big on inventory, but dealers say they're big on community.

"It would just be horrible to see our dealers go away," says Richard Yazell.

Since 1966, selling cars has been the family business for Richard Yazell. Inside, the Buckeyes are on display for all to see. Yazell says it comes with the territory.

"My business has been great here lately because I've had a lot of people come by here and ask to pray for my company and I owe it all to the Lord," said Yazell.

"The people need this dealership here, we need to be here," said James Milam.

Just up the road at Mike Craig Ford, Milam, the sales manager, says being in a small town makes a big difference.

"We can't afford to have Chrysler, GM, Ford go away, go under. It's going to impact the whole area....you don't just affect just one person or one business," said Milam. "There's tire stores that we deal with, part stores that we deal with."

"We're here to serve and support a community just like any other business out there," said Yazell.

It's true both on and off the lot.

"The sports...the team sports for the kids...looking for sponsorships," said Milam. "We just finished up with the Yamboree here. There again, there's the FFA, kids who raise the livestock...sales has contributions in that."

It's a delicate balance Milam says is crucial to doing business.

"If you come buy a vehicle from me today, I'd like to see you in two years, I'd like to see you next week for your service. We need it," said Milam.

"I'm praying that everything will be fine in the future. I have faith that it will," said Yazell.

The Big Three automakers are expected to be back on Capitol Hill in December when Congress reconvenes.

Layron Livingston, reporting. llivingston@kltv.com

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