The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

March 2, 2009

My Turn: Auto dealers are vital to community


Every Monday, The Daily Star will be offering members of our communities the opportunity to write about ... well ... just about anything under the title of "My turn." The inaugural column today is by Scott Davis, chief executive officer of Country Club Automotive Group.

Over the past several months I've listened to the media and the lawmakers question whether the American car manufacturers should be left to go into a structured bankruptcy.

I have heard the media call General Motors Corp. a dinosaur that should be allowed to go out of business. I have heard them lecture the CEOs of the Big Three domestic car manufacturers for not having an adequate business proposal to ensure profitability in the future only to have already handed over $150 billion of taxpayers' money to AIG and never demand as much as a plan from them.

As a General Motors dealer with a family history of more than 80 combined years in the automobile business, I'm growing increasingly tired of the misrepresentation that the domestic car manufacturers and General Motors in particular have received during our financial crisis.

The fact is, of the 250 million cars and trucks on US roads today, more that 66 million are GM brands. That's nearly 44 million more than the best-selling import brand.

Yes, mistakes have been made over the years by GM top executives and the auto unions, but the government needs to accept some responsibility, as well.

Before the credit crisis arrived with its devastating effects on Wall Street, as well as on Main Street, General Motors was in the middle of restructuring its operations and labor relations. It had a solid plan to achieve profitability and began launching new, outstanding products, with many more in the pipeline.

You seldom will hear or read it in the media, but GM has won many vehicle- and plant-quality awards. In 2008, General Motors tied for first place in the JD Power initial Quality Study, with 11 models ranked in the top three of their respective segments.

Also in 2008, GM's Oshawa, Ontario, plant was presented with the prestigious J.D. Power Founder's Award in recognition of its quality and industry-leading performance.

Despite the economic times, GM continues its commitment to research and development and is dedicated to bringing great products, exciting design and world-class quality to market.

General Motors is driven to be a leader in fuel economy, with more than 20 models that get 30 miles per gallon or better. GM has more hybrid models for sale and bio-capable vehicles on the road than any other manufacturer, and will have future products like an extended-range electric vehicle to come.

On a national level, if the U.S. auto industry should fail, nearly 3 million jobs would be lost in the first year alone with another 2.5 million to follow over the next two years.

Personal income in the U.S. would drop by more than $150.7 billion in the first year. The cost to state and local governments could reach $156.4 billion over three years in lost taxes and unemployment and health care assistance.

Auto dealerships contribute more than any other business to the quality of life that makes our country so great.

In New York state, new car dealers provide employment for more than 49,000 state residents, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue for state and local governments.

On the local level, new-car auto dealerships employ an average of 44 employees per dealership. They not only employ a lot of people, but they also sponsor our children's little league teams, donate to the local YMCA and give to the United Way, the local hospitals, Hospice and so much more.

Believe me when I say that this is not the exception, but rather the way most domestic auto dealers live their lives in small towns across this country.

The American automobile industry has long been the backbone of our country. Car and truck sales account for 20 percent of our nation's retail sales. The fact is that local domestic car dealerships, with your support, will be a major factor in our economic recovery.

Contact Davis at sdavis11@stny.rr.com.