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Done Deal

Race to 1,000 Letters

March 17, 2009

Bob and Mary Cockerham’s story is like many auto dealers these days. Their once four-store, 80-employee operation in Albuquerque, N.M., is now down to two rooftops and 17 employees. But rather than dwell on their own fate, this husband-and-wife team will travel to Washington, D.C., to fight for the fate of automotive dealerships across the United States.

“This is not a Bob and Mary problem, this is about an industry in trouble,” said Bob. “Dealership’s are closing and it’s got to stop.”

Tomorrow, Bob and Mary will testify before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship regarding two specific issues impacting U.S. auto dealers — the availability of retail credit and floorplan financing. He’ll also be telling our story to any policymaker who will listen that day, as he hopes to visit the offices of several lawmakers. I found out about Bob and Mary’s plight Saturday morning when my cell phone began ringing.

It was David Kelly, finance director at the multi-rooftop, subprime-friendly Easterns Automotive Group, and he sounded frantic.

Kelly told me the Cockerhams needed help. He asked me if I could help get the word out about their mission, and that’s exactly what I’m hoping to do with this blog.

“Here’s my deal,” Bob said, “America shouldn’t have to be triple A-rated to buy a car. If the average person has the capacity and ability to pay, they should have access to buy a car.

“As for floorplanning, I’m hearing from dealers that floorplan companies are demanding more equity in their inventories and are curtailing their floorplanning. This is putting thousands of dealers out of business.”

It’s those dealers whom Bob and Mary want to hear from. Because of time constraints, Bob probably only has enough time to tell his story. However, Bob said he will be able to submit the stories of other dealers as written testimony, which will then be reviewed by the subcommittee. “I want to walk in there and hand them a thousand stories,” he said. “This is an issue of car dealers in America, and somebody needs to listen to what’s going on.”

So, if you want to be heard, e-mail your story to Bob and Mary at bobc@carworldkia.com. Although Bob is hoping to collect all e-mails before flying to Washington on Wednesday, he said he’ll still forward any e-mail he receives to the subcommittee.

Listen, we’ve helped tell the stories of Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. We’ve watched our national dealer associations go to bat for us. We’ve seen financial services associations fight to loosen up the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility so finance companies can get back in the game. Now it’s time to tell our story.

So get on that computer and start typing. Tell that story of those employees who no longer greet you in the morning. Tell those stories about how many customers you’ve had to turn away because you can’t get financing. Tell them how you can rescue your dealership if you can only get financing for new inventory.

As Bob put it, “Billions of dollars have been spent to fix manufacturers, but nothing has been done to fix dealerships. So let’s get those e-mails out.”

Again, send your story to Bob and Mary at bobc@carworldkia.com.

Comments

  1. 1. mark dunyak [ March 18, 2009 @ 09:47AM ]

    i am the business manager at tom oates chevrolet in chester springs pa, i see first hand about this story that needs to be brought out in the open and fixed. good luck

  2. 2. Holly Cason [ March 19, 2009 @ 09:59AM ]

    My email has been sent to Mr. Cockerham and you as well Mr. Arroyo.... tyvm for bringing this to our attention.

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