Lone Star Dodge in Sulphur Springs won’t be affected by Chrysler’s plans to shut down 789 franchises across the United States. “We’re still in business,” said Robert Halbert, sales manager for Lone Star Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep on West Industrial Drive. “We weren’t even close to expecting to be on the list.”
Chrysler disclosed in a bankruptcy filing Thursday that it wants to close a quarter of its dealers in a matter of weeks, a strategy that might help save the company but would wipe out thousands of jobs.
The corporation targeted 50 dealerships in Texas. Franchises were notified of their fate in letters delivered by UPS Thursday.
Lone Star Dodge built a gleaming new facility on the western edge of Sulphur Springs that opened last year at a high-visibility, high-traffic site not far from the intersection of Interstate 30 and State Highway 19.
“With the new facilities and everything, we’re actually growing right now,” Halbert said. “We’re starting to see an increase in business, even with the economy the way it is.”
Even so, there was no way of knowing what the decision would be until the letter was in hand.
“We really didn’t know what the criteria was,” Halbert said. “When I got the actual letter by UPS, I was a little bit nervous. But I wasn’t too worried.”
Word on the street was that dealerships that didn’t carry all three of the Chrysler brands — Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep — were going to get shut down, like Mike Pile Autoplex in Smith County.
“My pal in Tyler got shut down,” Halbert said. “They only had the Jeep.”
The Jack O’ Diamonds franchise in Longview was also on the shutdown list.
“Jack O’ Diamonds only had the Dodge, and they have an old facility,” Halbert said. Another Longview dealership, Peters, handles Chrysler and Jeep, and has a brand new facility. Halbert said speculation is the Jack O’ Diamonds Dodge franchise will be shifted to Peters.
Handling all three makes of vehicles and having such a new facility in a good location were likely reasons that Lone Star Dodge wasn’t targeted.
“We’re thinking that had a lot to do with it — that and having a lot of trust with Chrysler,” Halbert said.
Still, it’s tough to hear about the other dealerships that are closing, Halbert said.
“It’s sad to see that the dealers are going away. Some of them are friends of mine, and some of them I’ve known for a long time, and it’s sad to see them losing their franchises. But it’ll be a good thing in the long run for the ones that stayed open, too.
“It’s kind of a bittersweet deal. It’s not one of those things that you want to bow your chest out about and say, ‘We’re in, y’all are out.’ But we’re not out of the woods yet. No one’s out of the woods yet.”
Another Sulphur Springs dealer, Gober and Merrell Chevrolet Buick GMC, was awaiting word of its fate today, as well. General Motors has announced it plans to close about 1,100 franchises in the United States, and at least some, if not all, dealerships were supposed to be receiving notification today.
A receptionist at Gober and Merrell said she was unaware if owner Joe Mack Gober had been notified about a decision.
“He’s in meetings this morning,” the receptionist said. “I assume we haven’t gotten word yet.”
50 Chrysler franchises targeted for closing in Texas
Chrysler LLC filed a motion Thursday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York saying it wants to eliminate 789 of its 3,200 dealerships nationwide by June 9. The filing lists 50 Texas dealerships. They are, by city and name:
— Abilene, Arrow Ford Inc., doing business as Arrow Chrysler Jeep
— Alvin, Rogers Dodge Inc.
— Aransas Pass, Henderson Chrysler Dodge Jeep Inc.
— Arlington, Tommy Manuel Chrysler-Plymouth-Jeep Inc.
— Baytown, Rock of Texas Automotive Inc.
— Bedford, Grubbs Nissan Mid-Cities LTD
— Brownfield, Brownfield C-D-J Products L.P.
— Brownsville, Cardenas Motors Inc.
— Canton, Canton Motors Inc.
— Clifton, DSMS of Houston, LP
— Crockett, Wayne Williams Motor Co. Inc.
— Dallas, Preston Chrysler Jeep Inc.
— Denison, Fred Pilkilton Motors
— Denton, Huffines Chrysler Jeep Kia Inc.
— Denton, Jim McNatt Automobile Co.
— Denver City, Bobby Trent Motorplex Inc.
— Eastland, Eastland County Automotive
— Fort Worth, Frank Kent Dodge, LLC
— Fredericksburg, Behrend Garage Inc.
— Gatesville, Mike Craig Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep
— George West, Live Oak County Automotive
— Giddings, Lee County Automotive Products LLC
— Harlingen, Bert Ogden Harlingen Motors Inc.
— Harlingen, Ed Payne Motors Incorporated
— Hillsboro, Hill County Automotive Products
— Houston, Archer Chrysler Jeep West Inc.
— Houston, Archer Chrysler-Plymouth Inc.
— Houston, Archer Financial Holdings Inc.
— Hughes Springs, Dewey Moore Ford
— Lockhart, Kirk Jackson Motor Co.
— Longview, Jack Diamond L-M Inc.
— McAllen, Van Burkleo Motors Inc.
— McKinney, El Dorado Motors Inc.
— Mineral Wells, Russell Whatley Motor Co.
— Odem, E H Green Motors Inc.
— Palestine, Snow L.L.C.
— Richardson, Manuel Dodge, LTD
— San Antonio—Fiesta Lincoln Mercury LTD
— San Augustin, San Augustine Motor Co.
— San Marcos, Chuck Nash Chevrolet-Oldsmobile-Buick doing business as Chuck Nash Jeep Eagle
— Seguin, Soechting Motors Inc.
— Stafford, Archer Dodge Inc.
— Tyler, Mike Pile Autoplex Inc.
— Waco, Allen Samuels Enterprises Allen Samuels Austin Dodge Inc.
— Waco, Allen Samuels Enterprises Allen Samuels Chrysler Jeep
— Waco, Jeff Hunter Motors Inc.
— Waco, Marstaller Motors Inc.
— Waco, Waco Dodge Sales Inc.
— Waxahachie, BP Automotive
— Waxahachie, Carlisle Chevrolet Company Inc.
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