GM guts local dealership of franchise

Steve Norman of Norman-Blackmon Buick-Pontiac-GMC
Steve Norman of Norman-Blackmon Buick-Pontiac-GMC

Posted by: Bryan Henry - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - In Greenville the GM dealership downtown, behind the county courthouse got the infamous letter today, getting word from GM the company does not plan to renew its franchise agreement with Norman-Blackmon Motors when the contract expires in October 2010.

"Nothing I can do about it,"said Steve Norman, one of several owners of the dealership.

This was Norman's response 24 hours ago when he thought this might happen. Today, Norman told WSFA 12 News he was 'disappointed, it hurts' and essentially said 'GM fired its customers.' During the interview Norman felt his family's dealership did a pretty good job for the car-maker.

The car company sent letters to 1,100 dealers across the country today. In short the letters said 'the unprecedented economic conditions in the United States and in our industry have made it necessary for us to restructure our business operations significantly.'

"We've been selling for 60 years and we managed to satisfy us but whether it satisfied GM is something different altogether," Norman said.

WSFA 12 News listened in on the GM phone conference Friday morning. The car manufacturer says the cuts are part of a larger plan to slash its dealership pool to around 4,300 and get rid of dealers that are too close to each other.

That appears to have been the case in Greenville. Norman-Blackmon Motors is just minutes away from the Greenville Motor Company off Interstate 65 South, another GM dealer who did *not* get a letter today. Greenville Motor Company survived the cuts.

"It's sad. It's been a tough week," said Tom Dart, head of the Automobile Association of Alabama.

"It's illogical to me. If they're only selling 10 cars a month, that's 10 more GM wouldn't have had otherwise," said Dart.

One silver lining. Unlike Chrysler Dart says it appears GM is taking the humane approach; allowing contracts to expire which gives dealers time to sell more cars and employees to find jobs, a long steady ride down for one of the big threes. How big of a drop? Consider this. In 1962 GM had more than 50% of the market. Today, it's around 20%.

It's not clear whether GM will file for bankruptcy.

Meantime, these are the area GM dealers who survived the cuts; Capitol Chevrolet in Montgomery; Larry Puckett Chevrolet in Prattville; Reliable Cadillac Pontiac GMC in Selma; Bill Jackson Chevrolet Cadillac Pontiac Buick GMC in Troy; Stokes Automotive Group in Clanton.

Other GM dealers haven't returned our calls and a full list of closures is not yet available.

WSFA 12 News will post that list when it becomes available.

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