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Orlando Sentinel
Bill Heard Chevrolet closes doors as part of nationwide shutdown


Steven Cole Smith | Sentinel Automotive Editor
4:33 PM EDT, September 24, 2008

Bill Heard Chevrolet of Sanford closed its doors at the end of business Wednesday, part of a shutdown of all 13 of the Georgia-based Bill Heard Enterprises dealerships nationwide.

Whether the store will reopen under new management, or by Chevrolet itself, remains to be seen.

According to a statement from Bill Heard Enterprises about 2,700 employees will be affected by the closings.

The company blamed "rising fuel prices, a product portfolio of mostly heavy trucks and sport utility vehicles, economic recession, unfavorable local market conditions for vehicle sales, the crisis in the banking and financing sectors, and other factors all combined to create a business environment in which the company simply did not have the resources needed to continue to operate.''

Susan Garontakos, GM's manager of dealer communications in Detroit, said that Chevrolet has no ownership stake in the Bill Heard operation, and she had no knowledge of whether the Sanford dealership will remain open. GM does have the option, she says, of essentially running the dealership for a "brief" period of time while a new owner is sought.

Meanwhile, Garontakos stressed that Bill Heard Chevrolet customers will be taken care of, if not by that dealership, then by nearby stores. Still, customers who have ongoing transactions with Bill Heard must deal with that company, as "our dealers are independent businesses, and General Motors is not directly part of that process."

Heard's 13-dealership network includes the store in Sanford and one in Tampa, as well as dealerships in Nevada, Texas, Tennessee, Alabama and the comany's home state of Georgia. Heard, bileld as "Mr. Big Volume," shut its Chevrolet dealership in Scottsdale, Arizona earlier this month.

All Heard's dealerships sell Chevrolets, and at least one also sells Cadillacs and Saabs.

Bill Heard Enterprises, based in Columbus, Ga., ranks No. 13 on Automotive News' list of the top 125 U.S. dealership groups, with 2007 group revenue of $2.13 billion. It is the world's top-selling Chevrolet dealership.

Heard, now 74, was quoted earlier this year as saying he planned to sell several of his dealerships.

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Good. That dealership chain has a record of doing horrendous things to customers; they deserve to be shut down. On top of that, GM needs to slice dealerships...so this is all good news. Except of course the innocent people losing their jobs from the dimwit that ran Bill Heard.
 

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This reminds me of our local Jiffy Lube. My father works at it and with their last store manager. The last store manager did horrible shady business and cost their store a lot of money. I hate to admit that the old store manager is my brother in law and the current regional vice pres thinks he is the best thing since sliced bread.

I am not going to ramble on but I know first hand about crappy service and believe if your company does crappy service and treat your customer like cattle, then you should be shut down.
 
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