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Nation's biggest Chevy dealer closes all dealerships

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AP

Nation's biggest Chevy dealer closes dealerships

Wednesday September 24, 6:00 pm ET

By Kate Brumback, Associated Press Writer

Nation's biggest Chevrolet dealer closes down all dealerships, cites unfavorable economy

COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) -- Bill Heard Enterprises Inc., the biggest Chevrolet dealer in the country, said Wednesday it is closing its 13 remaining dealerships, unable to survive in a weak economy with high gas prices and an inventory heavy on trucks and SUVs.

The Columbus-based company said in a statement it tried to avoid the closures, which will affect about 2,700 employees.

"However, the conditions necessary to sustain the business through the current challenges were not present," the statement said.

The difficult sales environment was made worse by the ongoing banking and financial crisis, it said. GMAC Financial Services last month discontinued credit for new inventory for some of the company's dealerships.

Phone calls to several Bill Heard dealerships Wednesday afternoon went unanswered.

One employee at a Bill Heard dealership in Memphis, Tenn., said, "We're closing, that's all I can tell you," before abruptly hanging up. At another Bill Heard dealership, commotion could be heard in the background as an employee said managers would not come to the phone.

The Heard operation was the single largest chain of Chevrolet dealerships in the country, said GM spokeswoman Susan Garontakos.

GM will honor all Chevrolet warranties at other nearby dealerships, which can be found on the Chevrolet Web site, she said.

She would not comment on reasons for the chain closing other than to say it was an independent business with GM franchise agreements.

"GM dealers are responsible for managing and financing dealerships," she said.

GM will work with the Heard chain and do research to decide if any of the dealers will reopen, she said.

The automaker is trying to reduce its dealership ranks as its U.S. market share has declined, and Garontakos said the closure opens an opportunity to look into whether any of the Heard outlets can be consolidated into nearby dealerships.

"Wherever it makes sense to keep a point open, and it's attractive enough for other dealers to take a look at it and keep it operating, we'll be doing that," she said.

The company had five dealerships in Georgia and eight in five other states -- Alabama, Florida, Nevada, Tennessee and Texas. A dealership in Scottsdale, Ariz. closed on Sept. 12.

Late last month, the Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs said in a court filing in Georgia's Fulton County that the company has participated in deceptive and misleading business practices. The company denied those allegations.

Associated Press Business Writer Dan Strumpf in New York and AP Auto Writer Tom Krisher in Detroit contributed to this story.

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I have heard nothing but bad things about that particular chain of dealerships. It might be a case of "good riddance" for GM in the long run, but it certainly makes for an unpleasant headline.

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2,700 jobs impacted by 13 dealerships going under. Can you imagine the job loss if a domestic OEM closed their doors without anyone to step in and keep the lights on?

I don't recall hearing good things about this particular chain either. So, I'm really not too upset... and GM needs to thin out the gluttony of franchises. 13 less dealerships GM will need to negotiate with or buy out in the future.

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I remember hearing a couple weeks ago when the one out here closed..it was odd, it was all out by itself, not on Scottsdale's auto row...

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Nah, Bill Heard dealerships have a reputation of being crooked, just a quick browse of the internets finds lots of complaints about them. Considering GM's dealership glut, this is a very good thing for one of the bad apples to leave the business.

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They, unfortunately, were selling $2.5 Billion/yr. worth of mostly GM product...that's what hurts GM, although I also heard that this group was not the most ethical bunch.

I'd say its a mixed bag for GM, and a total disaster for the employees. My heart goes out to them.

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They may have sold a lot of product, but from the complaint web sites that I have seen, they have also turned a lot of people off of GM due to terrible customer service. I mean I'd expect to see one, maybe two pissed customer websites for every dealership franchise, but I found many, many different people complaining about them on the internet. Most people would just be pissed and never buy again, not go and create websites and try to pursue vindictive cases against the dealership.

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Bill Heard. Talk about leveraging. Right in the heart of 'truck country' too. They really oversold the ethic there in GA and now they're reaping the unfortunate consequences of fraud and greed.

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2,700 jobs impacted by 13 dealerships going under.

THAT is a lot of jobs. I read elsewhere that the job # was closer to 3,500. But, even 2,700 is a bit too many, imho.

*shrugs*

I, too, have heard back things about BH dealerships, but I had a great experience with them in 1996 in Nashville TN. While I was there, they installed a new 350 V8 engine in my '79 MC...and I had NO problems with them...and no problems with the engine.

*shrugs*

Heck...each year I go back to Nashville, I stop at the dealership to see the guys I know there. This past November, however, one of 'em was on vacation and another one had left for another job.

In any case, sure is one heck of a situation for BH and Ch#$r%*et.....

Cort | 35swm | "Mr Monte Carlo"."Mr Road Trip" | pig valve.pacemaker

WRMNshowcase.legos.HO.models.MCs.RTs.CHD = http://www.chevyasylum.com/cort

"Are we too blind to see?" ... Elvis Presley ... 'In The Ghetto'

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I think I just heard GM breathe a sigh of relief. :yes:

The near instantaneous loss of $2.5B in yearly sales is good for GM?

I think not. Heard may have been scum, but he was moving a hell of alot of metal for them...

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The near instantaneous loss of $2.5B in yearly sales is good for GM?

I think not. Heard may have been scum, but he was moving a hell of alot of metal for them...

Not how I hear it. GM was constantly worried about the fraud and greed going on there, not to mention the law suits and potential law suits it was afraid of being drawn into.

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Not how I hear it. GM was constantly worried about the fraud and greed going on there, not to mention the law suits and potential law suits it was afraid of being drawn into.

Does that mean Mr. Heard was forced into resignation after being a poisoned pawn?

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Does that mean Mr. Heard was forced into resignation after being a poisoned pawn?

Let's just say it was a Sicilian Defense! :AH-HA_wink:

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Late last month, the Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs said in a court filing in Georgia's Fulton County that the company has participated in deceptive and misleading business practices. The company denied those allegations.

soooooo, waas it the economy or not? <_<

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Probably both, 68. A healthy economy provided some cover for the scum like BH to run their scams.

Let's hope that the tough times can weed out more dealers like this one.

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Let's just say it was a Sicilian Defense! :AH-HA_wink:

You do know that Poisoned Pawn is actually a variation of Sicilian Najdorf which Kasparov used very effectively to destroy Nigel Short in the 1992-93 world Championship, don't you? :P

It is basically a strategy in which black's pawn becomes a boon as well as a bane hence the name. Bill Heard is effectively GM's poisoned pawn.

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In a related story, Southeast Toyota Distributors has already offered Mr. Heard a franchise opportunity due to his business practices and character being a perfect match for their needs. :P

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The near instantaneous loss of $2.5B in yearly sales is good for GM?

I think not. Heard may have been scum, but he was moving a hell of alot of metal for them...

I'm sure other GM dealers will pick up a large part of those sales. People who want to purchase a specific vehicle will find the next closest dealer. Depending on how close the next dealer is, a large portion of those sales will be picked up, or they could indeed lose a lot of the potential customers.

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I think I just heard GM breathe a sigh of relief. :yes:

+1

Although one of our longstanding Chevy dealerships and Grahm Ford, which has been in Columbus "forever" are shutting down.

We are starting to see lots of dealerships here in the midwest go under, and others are very slow.

Chris

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In a related story, Southeast Toyota Distributors has already offered Mr. Heard a franchise opportunity due to his business practices and character being a perfect match for their needs. :P

:rotflmao: :rotflmao: :rotflmao: :rotflmao: :rotflmao: :rotflmao:

Chris

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Another dealership closure here---Power Buick-Pontiac-GMC closed today...was the largest BPG dealer in the Valley, I think..

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Suburban Buick used to be #1 in Chicago, and had buyers coming in annually to get new Buicks. Now outta biz.

OTOH, they relied on loyal buyers of WW2 generation, and since there are fewer of those....

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Laramie GM Auto Center is the largest dealership in Wyoming, selling everything except SAAB, Hummer, and Saturn. They keep pouring money into the dealership like they are rich. Some of it could be from their large used car inventory, but they APPEAR to be doing pretty well considering...

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