My Daughter

My Daughter
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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Letter from a Dodge dealer

May 19, 2009
Letter from a Dodge dealer

letter to the editor
My name is George C. Joseph. I am the sole owner of Sunshine Dodge-Isuzu, a family owned and operated business in Melbourne, Florida. My family bought and paid for this automobile franchise 35 years ago in 1974. I am the second generation to manage this business.

We currently employ 50+ people and before the economic slowdown we employed over 70 local people. We are active in the community and the local chamber of commerce. We deal with several dozen local vendors on a day to day basis and many more during a month. All depend on our business for part of their livelihood. We are financially strong with great respect in the market place and community. We have strong local presence and stability.

I work every day the store is open, nine to ten hours a day. I know most of our customers and all our employees. Sunshine Dodge is my life.

On Thursday, May 14, 2009 I was notified that my Dodge franchise, that we purchased, will be taken away from my family on June 9, 2009 without compensation and given to another dealer at no cost to them. My new vehicle inventory consists of 125 vehicles with a financed balance of 3 million dollars. This inventory becomes impossible to sell with no factory incentives beyond June 9, 2009. Without the Dodge franchise we can no longer sell a new Dodge as "new," nor will we be able to do any warranty service work. Additionally, my Dodge parts inventory, (approximately $300,000.) is virtually worthless without the ability to perform warranty service. There is no offer from Chrysler to buy back the vehicles or parts inventory.

Our facility was recently totally renovated at Chrysler's insistence, incurring a multi-million dollar debt in the form of a mortgage at Sun Trust Bank.



This is beyond imagination! My business is being stolen from me through NO FAULT OF OUR OWN. We did NOTHING wrong.

This atrocity will most likely force my family into bankruptcy. This will also cause our 50+ employees to be unemployed. How will they provide for their families? This is a total economic disaster.


I beseech your help, and look forward to your reply. Thank you.


George C. Joseph
President & Owner
Sunshine Dodge-Isuzu ... ealer.html


Dear George:

Sorry you are having so much trouble. In a way, it's not all your fault, to be sure, but in a way, of course, it is.

You have spent the last several decades selling Dodge cars. You of all people ought to know that far from a glorious tradition of automotive excellence, a lot of these cars were pieces of junk. The contract you had with Chrysler Corporation said that you agreed to sell whatever they sent you, no matter how crappy, and you did so, with a smile on your face, for many years. I am sure you are good at what you do.... you have to be in order to stay in business.

One of the ways that you stayed in business is by the service department that you are so proud of. I am sure you told your sales people to brag about it every chance they got. What you did not want to tell them is that making crappy cars works in your favor.... you get to charge your poor customers for the honor of fixing up the car that you sold them. What they really, really wanted was a car that would not break down. I am sure you have a dealer convention or something where you could feed this information back to Detroit, but evidently they did not get the message.

Another of the ways you stayed in business is by making sure your prices were lower than the Dodge dealer in Ft Lauderdale. To you, it was important that if someone wanted to drive a Dodge, they could go to you for the lowest price in the area. The guy in Lauderdale was doing exactly the same thing. From Dodge's point of view, both of you were undercutting one another, and it was costing them several hundred dollars per car. So, with one of you out of the picture, they are hoping that they can do away with some of this.

What they don't know, unfortunately, is that people nowadays can get on the internet, find the lowest price in the nation for the car they want, and with a couple hundred dollar airplane ticket can go someplace else and drive their car home. You, and the rest of the dealers, did not embrace this technology and take advantage of it, because you, after all, are just the grey haired version of the same greasy car sales people that you hire and fire every day.

Speaking of which, I can think of no other business where the customer is so shockingly humiliated and disrespected as he or she is in the American automotive sales transaction. Just saying.

Anyway, George, I do not want to keep you too much longer, because I know you have a short attention span, but I would just suggest that there are plenty of ways for you to make a living, starting with your big service department... people still need to have their cars worked on, even Toyotas break down occasionally, and they all buy tires and other supplies..... You are a victim of cirumstance, it is true, but what you really are is a victim of hubris... doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. You probably could have made the change gradually... or you could have gotten the message back in 1979 when the first Chrysler bail out happened.... but you stayed with what you know because you could, and now you can't. Sorry.

Anyway, if you are smart, you will figure it out. That really is free enterprise for you.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

My old man said. ....

My father is 85, born as a menonite farmer during the depression, was going to be a preacher until he went to World War II were he met my irreverent Italian mother whom he married and brought back to the US. He dropped religion and became an athiest even though in all other ways culturally he remained quite conservative and true to his prudish upbringing. He ended working for Westinghous in their atomic energy division until that closed down. He was a lifelong democrat until Reagan, become a republican through George Bush's first term. He voted for Obama. 

So I asked the old man yesterday how he viewed the current economic crisis and what he saw happening going forward. 

He said the economic recovery will not happen quickly this time around since there is no more bubbles to inflate since the last two, the banking and consumer were fake, unlike the manufacturing and information technology booms which were based on something concrete. He said the era of governments backing corporations and the banks is over and that the government will turn to a more socialist agenda to focus on the needs of the middle class. He said this is necessary since now it has become clear that corporations and banks are only out for their own profit. He said it is time for the government to look out for the little guy. He is a great fan of Obama by the way. 

Around mitigations for issues like peak oil and global warming my Dad said the human being is not capable of changing his appetite for growth and expansion and all attempts will be futile. He said this will be taken care of by mother nature sometime in the next 200 years. I told him it will happen in my life time and certainly in the lifetime of my daughters. He is skeptical of any radical changes to the status quo in either direction, up or down. 

Just interesting getting an old man's view of things which I thought I would share.