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Bill Jackson dodges nationwide GM cuts

FROM STAFF REPORTS AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

While about 1,100 General Motors Corp. dealers received word Friday their dealerships would close, Troy’s local dealership was not one of them.

Bill Jackson Chevrolet did not receive a letter from GM.

“We dodged the cuts and are in good shape,” said Jim Jackson, co-owner of the dealership. “I don’t know of any others in the area.”

Jackson said he feels the dealership was able to dodge the cuts based on customer service and effective sales.

While many dealerships are down drastically in sales, Jackson said his dealership is only down 10 to 20 percent in total sales.

Jackson anticipates the announcement that his dealership will remain open will help ease customers’ mind and help increase sales.

“It eases everyone’s mind,” Jackson said. “Knowing that we’re going to be open and there’s going to be a dealership to service their vehicles. Our service department is one of our strongest.”

GM’s announcement cuts nearly 20 percent of its U.S. network, and is more bad economic news for dealers, communities and businesses still reeling from Chrysler’s similar nationwide dealer cuts a day earlier.

While GM doesn’t own the dealers, its network is too big, causing dealers to compete with each other and giving shoppers too much leverage to talk down prices and hurt the company’s future sales.

“Too many dealers, in actuality, are a problem,” Mark LaNeve, GM’s vice president of North American sales and marketing, said in a conference call with reporters.

GM declined to reveal which dealers will be eliminated and left it up to franchise owners to report the decision to customers.

Jackson said the reason GM wasn’t revealing the dealers it cut was because of privacy issues.

The cuts are part of a larger GM plan to drop 2,600, or nearly 42 percent of its 6,200 dealerships as the automaker tries to restructure outside of bankruptcy court and become profitable again. Thousands of jobs will likely be lost and governments will lose untold dollars in tax revenue as dealerships are forced to close.

Besides the 1,100 dealership cuts, the company will provide updates to about 470 Saturn, Hummer and Saab dealerships on the status of those brands, which it plans to sell.

Friday’s cuts will not be the last. GM said it expects to lose more dealers through attrition. Ultimately, about 90 percent of the remaining dealerships will stay with GM, the company said.

FedEx letters bearing the bad news began arriving Friday morning at GM franchises around the country. The letter states that dealers were judged on sales, customer service scores, location, condition of facilities and other criteria.