Browning saved from GM cuts

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By The Staff

Relief is in the air at Browning Chevrolet, Pontiac GMC.

Earlier this month, the 50-year old family owned Eminence business learned that it was selected to continue dealing with Chevrolet and GMC vehicle brands.

“I think it’s good news for us and good news for the town,” Jeff Browning said Tuesday afternoon. Browning, who was in the process of delivering a vehicle to a customer, said more details were yet to come.

The dealership and its employees were notified by letter that the business would remain open, something that sent a collective sigh of relief through the dealership.

Browning said they never really had any indication that the dealership would be cut. “We have 30 years of experience that kind of told us some of the things they were looking for,” he said. “We didn’t know we were safe, but the fact that we hadn’t heard anything (was good).”

The letter, dated June 1, stated: “Part of GM’s restructuring efforts include plans for a dealer network consisting of fewer, stronger and more properly located dealers which we hope will allow for higher through-put and enhanced business potential. Your selection as a dealer for the Chevrolet, GMC brands shows the confidence we have in your dealership being part of the new GM.”

GM filed for bankruptcy protection on June 1 and has notified about 1,100 dealers, which make up 20 percent of its dealers in the U.S., that they will be cut as of October 2010 in a restructuring effort to reduce the automaker’s costs.

The notifications cover less than half of the total cuts that will be made, as GM plan to drop around 2,500 of its 6,200 dealerships.

A press release from GM discusses the “New GM”: “It will be built from only GM’s best brands and operations, and it will be supported by a stronger balance sheet due to a significantly lower debt burden and operating cost structure than before. The New GM will incorporate the terms of GM’s recent agreements with the United Auto Workers (UAW) and Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) unions and will be led by GM’s current management team.”

Despite dealers being cut, GM promises it will honor existing warranties, and customers of discontinued brands or dealerships will still be supported by other GM dealerships.

In a press release, GM president and CEO Fritz Henderson said some good would come from the economic doom and gloom.

“The economic crisis has caused enormous disruption in the auto industry, but with it has come the opportunity for us to reinvent our business,” he said.

Sentinel News reporter Scott McDaniel contributed to this report.

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