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Car dealer may lose GM franchise
More than 60 years of Glenn County automotive history may be ending soon if Northstate Motors loses its General Motors franchise.
The Orland dealership received a form letter Friday indicating GM may cut ties with the company as part of its restructuring plans of eliminating 1,100 dealerships nationwide.
"It is so vague it is insulting," said Northstate owner Benjamin January, who added the letter did not give specific dates or reasons for potential termination of the franchise.
The letter asks for a response by the end of the month, he said, but it did not give concrete reasons for ending the business relationship nor a final closing date.
"It could be two weeks or a year and half," January said, he does not know and that makes it difficult to make business plans.
In the meantime, he continues to do business at the Walker Street dealership servicing customers' cars for repairs and will honor his service by donation offer through the end of this week to qualified individuals who have lost their incomes in this tough economy.
He added Northstate Motors is one of hundreds of small dealers hit by GM's decision to cut dealerships. While his 11 employees are upset with the GM plan, they continue to "hang in there" and have pledged to work with January for as long as they can, he said.
January has co-owned the dealership for eight years — taking over sole ownership in January when his partner Brian Leach left the company. It sells Chevrolets, Pontiacs and GMC trucks along with used vehicles of different makes, he said.
He said he has sent letters and e-mails to numerous legislators and talked with Orland and Willows officials about getting help to keep the dealership open. However, the city people told him they were not in a position to help.
January criticized President Barrack Obama's so called bail-out plans for the automakers and other corporate entities.
"He feeds the giant to destroy small business," January said. "He is not helping them — only the big guys."
If Northstate Motors closes, Orland and Glenn County will lose a lot of sales taxes, he said, and customers will have to drive 30 minutes or more to get their vehicles serviced by a GM dealer.
"Many older couples tell me this is the only place they trust," January said. "It makes me feel good. I personally handle their service and they really know me."
But the future is up in the air. January said he has contacted other manufacturers about becoming a dealer, but he is waiting to hear back from them.
Contact Rick Longley at 934-6800 or firstname.lastname@example.org