Local GM dealers react to bankruptcy

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - General Motors filed for bankruptcy Monday, the largest such filing in US history. As a result, nine more plants will close, three will sit idle, and thousands of people will be out of work. One of those plants shutting down is in Spotsylvania. Dealerships in greater Richmond are also worried, wondering if they will be next.

Come this July, Ted Linhart's family will have been selling GM vehicles for 55 years.

"It's tough emotionally. My great uncle founded this company. And it's tough to see something you love this much to go through this," said Ted Linhart, CEO of Dominion Auto Group.

He owns two campuses and runs nine franchises, seven of which sell GM vehicles. He knew this day was coming and was able to take steps to protect not only his customers but his 181 employees.

From oil filters to spark plugs, this GM dealership's spent over a million dollars stocking up on all sorts of supplies. Just in case there is a problem with the suppliers.

Linhart also liquidated a lot of assets that were not necessary to the business. Instead of re-investing he put the cash in the bank, enough to run his company for the next 10 months.

"It's exciting and anxiety producing because it's an unknown. Once you get by the emotion of it. It's a business decision. And life will go on," Linhart said.

Don Hall is the President of the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association. He believes Monday's news means GM is not going way.

"This is a different kind of bankruptcy. This is a reorganization of your family budget, if you will, and all the players within that family budget. So at the end of the day they will come out of it. And GM will still be strong and be out there for the consuming public to enjoy their products," said Hall.

He says GM customers won't notice many changes. Their cars will still be serviced and the federal government has promised to back the warranties. If your GM dealer eventually goes out of business, he says someone will be there to service your car.

"Other GM dealers throughout the area will then pick you up as part of their customer base and will make every effort to incentivize you to come into their store," said Hall.

A listing of which dealerships around the country that will actually be forced to close will be released by the bankruptcy judge in the next few weeks.

(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.