Local car dealers avoid ax
Chrysler outfits safe; GM operations get fates today

CONYERS - Amid months of bad news surrounding American carmakers, General Manager Tim Cartledge of Ginn Motor Company in Covington received word Thursday from Chrysler LLC that his dealership, Ginn Chrysler Dodge Jeep on U.S. Highway 278, will continue to operate.

With that dealership spared, he is now awaiting word on the fate of the Chevrolet dealership on Access Road, which is expected to arrive today.

"All I can tell you is we know for sure the Chrysler store will be (in business)," Cartledge said.

"So far, so good," he added.

Also, Steve Harris owner of Town & Country Chrysler-Jeep Dodge in Conyers got some good news Thursday when he received word from Chrysler LLC that his dealership will continue to operate.

Dealers received a letter delivered by UPS before 10 a.m. Thursday informing them whether Chrysler would continue its franchise agreement past this year.

Harris said he felt some trepidation when the package arrived on his desk Thursday. Those feelings quickly changed to relief.

"I opened my letter and started reading; it became an emotional thing," said Harris, who admitted he shed a few tears. "I didn't know what was going to happen to me. I didn't know because no one knew what the criteria was."

Chrysler is eliminating 789 dealerships by June, roughly a quarter of its 3,200 U.S. dealerships, as part of the bankruptcy process the company entered into earlier this month.

Thirteen Chrysler-Dodge dealerships in Georgia were among those the carmaker said it would close. Included on the list were dealerships in Augusta, Claxton, Clayton, Cleveland, Dalton, Decatur, Jackson, Jasper, Milledgeville, Savannah, Thomaston and two in Newnan.

Harris said he knew some of those dealers, which made the good news for Town & Country bittersweet.

"It's been a really, really emotional thing for everybody," he said. "I just know there are some other people whose lives are getting turned."

He added, "The uncertainty over the last 30 days for all the car dealerships has been demoralizing and just very, very difficult to deal with."

Chrysler dealerships aren't the only ones scheduled to get bad news this week. General Motors Corp. said it is notifying 1,100 dealers today that it will not renew their franchise agreements when they expire at the end of September of 2010.

Kim Miles of John Miles Chevrolet in Conyers said she was bracing for whatever the news will bring.

Miles joined her father, John Miles, in the business in 2003 after enjoying a successful career in accounting. Miles said she believed her dealership has performed well in a bad market, but was uncertain what will happen today.

"I came into the business not really knowing if I would like it, and I've learned to love it," Miles said. "I had planned on making this my life, and now this."

Staff Reporter Crystal Tatum contributed to this article.

Jay Jones can be reached at jay.jones@rockdalecitizen.com.