Louisburg auto dealership fights to save business
Posted December 2, 2009
Louisburg, N.C. — Anthony Neal has spent two decades working on cars.
"This is all I know to do," he said.
Yet, Neal is unsure if he will still have a job this time next year.
"It's going to hurt, because I'm going to have to relocate to somewhere else, and I really don't want to do that," he said.
Neal's employer, D&J Automotive, is one of approximately 1,300 General Motors auto dealerships nationwide slated to lose its affiliation with the automaker in October.
"It will be a sad day," said Phyllis Jeffreys Culbreth, the dealership's owner. "It's very personal for us, because we've been here for so long."
Her father founded D&J in the 1960s, and for decades, it's been one of Louisburg's bigger businesses and the only GM dealership in Franklin County.
"We need it badly for jobs," Louisburg Mayor Karl Pernell said Wednesday. "We need it for the service of people who have GM products."
By losing its GM affiliation, D&J would no longer sell new GM vehicles, and it wouldn't carry auto parts. Jeffreys Culbreth said the dealership will still sell Chrysler and used autos but that the business would be significantly affected.
One area would be the service department. Mechanics say they will lose about a third of their business.
Now, the dealership has created a Web site and is asking the community to write letters urging GM to keep its franchise agreement.
"I think it will tell the people of Franklin County that we fought, that we tried to retain what we felt was ours," Jeffreys Culbreth said.
Those are words that employees like Neal take to heart.
"We're going to stay here until the end," he said. "We're going to fight it out."
A GM spokeswoman in Detroit says the company chose to cut ties with the dealers based on their long-term viability. She said profitability, more than community support, was the criteria used in making the selections.