At least one of Henry County’s two auto dealers learned last week that they were safe from closure.
Hancock and Waits Chrysler dealership employees were on pins and needles awaiting notification from ailing auto giant Chrysler about whether or not they would be a casualty of industry-wide shutdowns.
Hancock and Waits Finance Manager Shawn Bright said owners Randy Hancock and Jim Waits got a heads up from “friend” dealerships in the area that the news would come last week via UPS.
A flimsy envelope containing one slim piece of paper arrived mid-week announcing the car lot’s fate — Hancock and Waits was spared.
“It was pretty exciting,” he said. “Me and Randy and Jimbo were jumping up and down.”
Bright said Randy Hancock and Jim Waits bought the car lot in 2005. Both hail from Oldham County.
“Randy lives in Smithfield now,” he said, “and Jim’s dad, Jim Sr., used to own Waits Ford in Oldham County.” Bright said the pair generates business from Oldham County as well as Henry. “Those guys have been doing this since they were kids,” he said.
Bright said Hancock and Waits recently cut back on inventory as a precautionary measure. Had the dealership been axed, the owners would have been responsible for cars left unsold and become nothing but a used car lot.
“Right now we have 25 cars on the lot,” he said. “I expect that to double in the next 30 days.”
Bright said a big plus for past customers is that warranty work will continue at the Eminence dealership. That option would have been lost without Chrysler’s corporate sponsorship. “People won’t have to go to Crestwood or Shelbyville for their warranty work,” he said.
Bright said Chrysler did not give franchisees much notice, deleting dealer agreements effective June 9. “I have a list of 789 dealers that were cut, 12 in Kentucky,” he said. “A lot of little cities will be hurt.”
Bright said besides providing revenue for the city, dealerships like Hancock and Waits play another role in communities — supporting local schools, charities and sports. “$590 was raised (for schools) a couple weeks ago at the car wash here,” he said.
Bright foresees a bright future for Hancock and Waits as well as for their customers.
“We’re just totally excited,” he said.
GM/Pontiac dealers also were among those notified by certified mail whether or not their parent company would close their dealerships.
As of press time, it was unknown whether or not Eminence’s Browning Pontiac/GMC was among the group that would be closed. Attempts to contact a representative for the business were unsuccesful, and messages left were not returned.
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