Minority Dealers May Be Slammed by Closings - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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gm_carsGregory Jackson, owner of five General Motors dealerships believes that as GM whittles down the number of franchises in bankruptcy “those last men standing should do well.” But when the smoke clears, no one is sure how many minority dealerships will be left standing.

“I would say there is a lot of anxiety on the part of the entire industry,” says Jackson, owner and CEO of Prestige Automotive Group (No. 1 on the 2009 BE Auto Dealers list with $646.2 million in revenues).

The bankruptcy proceedings of Chrysler L.L.C. and now GM could trigger adverse consequences for minority-owned dealers and the communities that they reside in, says Damon Lester, president of the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers.

If the shakeout at Chrysler is any warning, there could be a disproportionate amount of black-owned franchises closing this year. Of 19,000 new automobile dealerships, less than 1,200 or 5% were owned by ethnic minorities, said Lester in a testimony before the House Judiciary Committee in May. Chrysler’s termination of 800 dealer contracts that month condensed ethnic dealerships by 25%. GM, which had about 40 black-owned dealerships before the closings, says they will reduce their dealer body by about 1400 to 3600 businesses.

While Chrysler sought to close dealerships in less than four weeks, GM will be giving approximately 1,400 dealerships 18 months to unwind and sell-off their inventory and parts. However, GM has not spelled out how much money it will use to assist in the dissolution of dealers, and bankruptcy law gives them the right to reject dealers sooner if they choose to.

“It is very ambiguous,” says Marjorie Staten, executive director for General Motors Minority Dealers Association. “We don’t have the details of whether [GM] will buy back every single vehicle and every single part. [If not] that could leave some dealers exposed.”

Those dealers, whose contracts were not rejected, will fall under the “new GM” during the restructuring process; terminated dealers will remain under the “old GM.” This will produce two classes of dealers that will both continue to operate their companies under extreme duress as they try to sell off a glut of inventory.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.

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