Friday, May 15, 2009
LaBelle Chrysler Dealer Awaits Word
Chrysler Bankruptcy Worries Dealers
LABELLE, FL. -- After filing for Bankruptcy in New York, Chrysler has proposed a list to the court to eliminate about one-quarter of it's current franchise dealerships. Owner of the LaBelle Dodge Chrysler Jeep dealership is worried, as two of his Florida dealerships are on the list slated to be closed within weeks if the court approves.
Doug Plattner's Winter Park Dodge and Tarpon Springs Dodge is on the list to stop selling new cars by early June if the court approves. The court motions claims that the list includes dealerships that are not selling enough new cars. Most all of the dealerships on the list are not full line Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep stores. Chrysler, for many years, has been attempting to eliminate single line car stores. Now it has it's best chance to do that, getting rid of single line stores selling only one of the Chrysler line that includes Jeep and Dodge.
Plattner also faces problems down the road as General Motors wants to close about half it's franchise stores. Plattner owns a GM dealership in Arcadia, Florida. Plattner has also faced financing problems as the Florida Community Bank has forced a modification of existing loan terms to increase the bank's security interest in Plattner's dealerships. Plattner has borrowed $5,3 million from the bank, including $3.2 million for the Winter Park Dodge store. Plattner has been sued in several lawsuits by former employees and a newspaper for non-payment of Plattner ads.
Chrysler also wants to eliminate dealerships that sell more used cars than new, which seems to be the case with Plattner's stores. Plattner buys thousands of used cars at auctions yearly for a few thousand dollars and sends them to his Florida stores marking them up as much as double what he pays.
Don Intoccia, former finance manager at LaBelle Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, and at Plattner's Arcadia GM store, and now general manager of Plattner's Winter Park Dodge, told a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel that Chrysler is favoring stores that currently stock Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep products "under one roof."
Intoccia told the Orlando paper "we will continue to serve our customers selling pre-owned vehicles, because that's where the market is, anyway."
Plattner's web page says, "Why waste money on a new vehicle when you can save $10,000-$25,000 and buy certified pre-owned, and get a better warranty than most new vehicles?"
The only other Southwest Florida dealership on the list proposed to close is Bob Taylor Jeep in Naples