Friday, May 22, 2009

A Former Employer Bites the Dust

Ultimately, the decision to leave was a good one.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle - "Scott Whiting is a third-generation General Motors dealer. So when Whiting Motors received a form letter from GM last week announcing that its franchise agreement would be cut off next year, it was like a physical blow, he said.

'It’s like your wife of 28 years leaving you and saying she doesn’t love you anymore,' Whiting said.

Whiting Motors was one of 1,100 General Motors dealerships informed last week that their franchise agreements will not be renewed as part of a massive restructuring effort for the American automaker."
Back in 2003, Scott's Finance Manager pulled a disappearing act on him, and I was suddenly out of work at the same time. He was entering a tent sale and needed someone to do that job, and that someone was me. I made some good friends there. I didn't want to leave but economic necessity forced me to do so, either that, or go bankrupt. So I left.

Ultimately Scott did not wish to expand his dealership and I could see the writing on the wall. Whiting would be perpetually small, there was no future there for me. Little did I know there just wasn't a future there. Scott operated out of an ancient dealership facility in the middle of Livingston MT and had a satellite used car operation near the Interstate. In reality his "Used Car" lot was his only lot, and he sold the vast majority of this new cars from there as well. I'm sure this wasn't what GM had in mind.

Like many generational successors owning a car dealership, Scott had just recently "paid off" his father. Now he has very little to show for it. Livingston may have only one franchised new car dealership in the near future, that being Ford.
"Headwaters GMC-Buick-Pontiac, which has locations in Three Forks and Livingston, was also told by GM last week that its franchise agreements would end in 2010, said owner Dave Jackson."
It would seem that GM has closed dealerships in such a fashion that the Gallatin valley is feeling the greatest impact. Livingston is on one side of Bozeman Montana, Three Forks is on the other. I haven't heard the word on some other small dealerships I have a feeling for.
KPAX - "The four Montana dealerships affected by the news are Rimrock Chrysler Jeep and Underriner Motors in Billings, Flanagan's in Missoula, and Bell-McCall in Hamilton."
Flanagan's is not a dealership for which I experience sadness. I would have to say I suffered abuse at the hands of their owners, and unjustly at that. They will survive as they have other franchises. I find that I am not as forgiving as I would wish to imagine myself when I hear news of such failures and truly I struggle, not with how to feel, but knowing what I feel when I see news such as this. There are a number of other dealerships I am keeping track of, one of which stole money from me, literally, in the form of travelers checks. I'm actually experiencing "Schadenfreude" when some of these folks go down. This is not a glowing commentary on my moral condition.

Nevertheless, with few exceptions, these closings are retroactively justifying my decision to leave some places, and making the sting of losing other employment less sharp. Even without the sinful and regrettable pleasure I experience at some falling on bad times, the closures say there was no future there, and the bad fortune that I experienced at their hands, was not so bad after all.

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