OSCEOLA, AR (KAIT) - The Louis George Motor Company in Osceola told Region 8 News Tuesday it was inundated with phone calls Monday and again Tuesday regarding inventory left over from Chrysler Corporation. According to Danny George, his company received 230 calls Monday and was barely able to grant Region 8 News an interview to discuss his company's future.
"They're getting cars bought cheaper than they'll ever buy, but we've got to get rid of them or at the end of this day, we'll probably end up selling what little we have left to other Chrysler dealers," said George.
Tuesday was supposed to be the final day Louis George Motors was affiliated with Chrysler; however, reports suggest the company will have until June 15 to sell existing inventory.
"We've been going so fast, I'm less than 20 units now left in inventory new," said George.
Chrysler slashed 800 certified dealerships from its corporation in May in an attempt to move out of bankruptcy protection. The corporation has since been trying to find its nitch in global economics.
According to George, his company was cut because it was in too small of a market to be a viable competitor in the automotive business.
"I know we've sold one in North Dakota, one in Texas, they're going all over the country. We've been getting a ton of calls from New York, Ohio, Maryland," said George.
If dealers cut by Chrysler cannot sell the remaining vehicles on their lots, then dealers could sell back to other Chrysler dealerships.
"We'll lose about $2,000 a copy and so I'd rather lose it to an individual than to give them the satisfaction of keeping inventory with other dealers stocked, which is what they want us to do. No offense to the other dealers, it's for Chrysler," said George.
Vehicles sold at rejected Chrysler dealers after June 9, 2009 will not include factory incentives or a Chrysler warranty; however, vehicles will have a federal warranty lasting three years or 36,000 miles.
Other than the vehicles, former Chrysler dealerships cannot sell special service tools and equipment back to the company, according to George.
"Our contracts say they buy the parts back. They buy the service special tools and equipment that they sold us back, but they're just going to leave us hung with it because of bankruptcy and that's the only way they can do it because of state laws and our contracts won't let them do that," said George.
Current Chrysler owners have expressed concerns to Region 8 News that warranties will be invalid.
"Now I guess the closest Chrysler dealership would be in Jonesboro, Arkansas, which is 68 miles away. That means I've got to close my shop and take it over to get it worked on, or I've got to pay somebody to take it to get it worked on," said Reggie Cullom, who has purchased vehicles from Louis George Motors for 30 years.
"What concerns me now is, now I'll have to drive at least 60 miles either to Memphis or to Jonesboro to get service work on my new car," said John Jarvis.
Jarvis said he purchased a new '09 Dodge Challenger in February before Chrysler filed for bankruptcy. His main concern is where he'll get his vehicle serviced.
"The greatest emissary Chrysler Corporation has got is the small town dealer because he covers any mistake that the manufacturer makes with good service," said Cullom.
Cullom said he's getting upset with the federal government's bailout of the auto industry. He said he didn't understand why Chrysler would cut a small dealership with no financial problems.
"They're kind of easy to deal with, no high pressure and they're just your good ole local, small town dealership," said Jarvis.
"You're in a small market. That means you've got to have people to trade and come back. In a large city like St. Louis, West Memphis, Memphis, Chicago, you've got new people all the time. You can sell to one guy and never sell to him again and stay in business. As a small town dealer, you have to have repeat business every 3-4 years, because if you start running people off after one sale, 5 years from now, you're out of business," said Cullom.
Osceola is in Mississippi County, which relies on steel and agriculture. The economic slump has played a major role in the county's unemployment rate.
"In this town, we've lost a lot of businesses, and any business is an asset to a town. I don't care if they got one employee or 50. You don't need to lose any of them and we're going to try to keep everything we've got just intact like it is except we won't be selling new cars," said George.
"In a small town like this, anytime you lose a job, it hurts. We've been fortunate around here with the power plant construction and all that but it won't last forever," said Jarvis.
"Keeping jobs here in Osceola. We're just like everybody else, our economy has been hit terrible. We're in a county that depends on the steel industry, automobile business goes down and the steel industry takes a hit," said Cullom.
Louis George Motors employs 7 people, including 3 outside salesmen, according to George. After his Chrysler experience is complete, he'll continue selling late-model and antique automobiles.
"I'm going to kind of back up and enjoy life for a change instead of being under the pressure of a manufacturer," said George. "We've changed our license over to a used car dealer instead of a new car dealer and just a lot of little things that we've got to do; it's not going to be any problem. We're going forward."