Fla. congressman’s car dealership on Chrysler list
May 15, 2009
WASHINGTON (AP) — Even a member of Congress is on Chrysler’s dealership hit list. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., a businessman who has owned car dealerships since 1992, learned Thursday that his Venice, Fla., Dodge dealership was among those scheduled to be terminated. ‘‘It’s an outrage. It’s not about me. I’m going to be fine,’’ said Buchanan, the dealership’s majority owner. ‘‘You’re talking over 100,000 jobs. We’re supposed to be in the business of creating jobs, not killing jobs.’’ Chrysler LLC disclosed that it intends to close about a quarter of its 3,200 U.S. dealerships by June 9, saying in a bankruptcy court filing that the network has too many stores competing against each other. Buchanan’s dealership is the first listed on the court document specifying the dealerships scheduled for closure. Buchanan owns five dealership locations in Florida and North Carolina. He once owned 23 car franchises and sold off about 60 percent of his car dealerships before entering Congress. His Dodge dealership in Venice also includes a Nissan store. ‘‘This doesn’t do anything but hurt Chrysler. This doesn’t help Chrysler. And they’re going to be hurting a lot of working families,’’ said Buchanan, who was first elected to Congress in 2006 to a seat previously held by Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Fla. While many dealers learned the news through United Parcel Service letters, Buchanan found out from a House colleague. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., ran into Buchanan and told him, ‘‘I heard you’re going to lose your Dodge franchise.’’ ‘‘I said, ’Oh, really?’’’ Buchanan recounted. Shelby Curtsinger, the Dodge dealership’s operating partner, said he was stunned by the decision because the dealership had been profitable since it opened in 1999 and typically sells about 700 vehicles a year, more than twice the sales of an average Chrysler dealership. Curtsinger said he and his wife sank their life’s savings into the dealership, which employs 60 people. ‘‘This could very well put us out of business,’’ Curtsinger said.
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