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Chrysler proposes cutting Wright's franchise

Midway Motors dodges General Motors cuts

Staff writer

Wright’s Inc. of Hillsboro is one of about 800 dealerships auto manufacturer Chrysler LLC plans to cut as part of its bankruptcy restructuring, the company announced Thursday.

Despite the news, Wright’s will continue business in Hillsboro, owner Doug Wright said.

“The Chrysler sign will go away,” Wright said. “That’s it.”

Restructuring will eliminate about one-fourth of Chrysler’s dealerships. The goal is to improve sales at the company’s remaining dealerships, Wright said.

He said it was frustrating that he could lose his franchise because of events out of his control, after 15 years in Hillsboro.

Wright said he believed his dealership might avoid cuts because it also sells Dodge and Jeep vehicles, which many other dealerships do not.

Other dealerships in Hillsboro were unhappy about the news.

“I think it’s a tragedy,” said Danny Flynn, general manager of Midway Motors. “Here’s a gentleman who has dedicated time, effort, and money to a franchise, and they’re simply turning their backs and walking away from him.”

Midway Motors, with another dealership in McPherson, was not among about 1,100 dealerships General Motors informed Friday that would not have their franchises renewed. Flynn said he doesn’t expect any more cuts in the near future.

“I hate to see it happen,” said co-owner Randy Hagen of Hillsboro Ford Mercury, regarding Wright’s. “We can’t afford to lose businesses like that in Hillsboro.”

Competition is good for car dealers, Flynn and Hagen said.

“I wonder what Wright’s costs Chrysler,” Hagen said.

Wright said his dealership costs Chrysler nothing. He buys cars and parts up-front.

Since the announcement, many people have come into Wright’s with questions, and some people had some misconceptions.

Several people believed Wright’s would close down since Chrysler cut its franchise. Wright even heard a rumor his house was for sale.

Wright’s will continue to operate even if its Chrysler franchise is taken away. Used car sales are more cost efficient than new. Several other dealers are interested in Wright’s remaining inventory of new vehicles, so clearing that inventory shouldn’t be difficult, Wright said.

There still is a chance Wright’s could keep its franchise. Chrysler will present its restructuring plan, including dealership cuts, in bankruptcy court June 9. If the court doesn’t accept Chrysler’s plan, Wright could keep the franchise.

Chrysler filed April 30 for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Last modified May 20, 2009

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