An announcement, or better yet, a non-announcement from General Motors of Canada regarding the elimination of approximately 240 of its 705 dealerships across the country has brought good news to a local GM outlet and the entire community.
Dealers throughout Canada were nervously anticipating a telephone call for the automobile manufacturing giant informing them that they’d be closing their doors by the end of this year, however for owner/operator Tim Buist of Buist Motor Products in Rimbey, that call never came.
“General Motors is going through a hard time,” Buist said. “They’re looking at restructuring their dealer network and they’ve gone through their existing dealers and used certain criteria to see who they want in their restructures team and who they don’t, and Buist Motor Products of Rimbey made the cut.”
Among the criteria were factors such as the image of the building, the profitability of the dealership, a customer satisfaction index and the volume of sales, all of which were acceptable at the local outlet in the eyes of General Motors, but it didn’t come without some anxious moments for Buist and his 30-member staff.
“So far they’ve (staff) taken it well. I’ve e-mailed them all and we’re going to have a meeting with them and I’m going to congratulate them on the good job and that we’re still here, but I figured I’d tell them all in person, so we’re going to meet together soon.” He said adding that as one of the community’s largest private employers, loss of the dealership could’ve had a profound effect on the local economy.
“I’m glad that we’re able to provide 30 families with work and so far we haven’t had to lay anybody off or do any pay cuts, and hopefully we can carry on along that line,” he said. “It would be a sad day if GM closed the store and we saw 30 families without work. It would be hard on Rimbey.”
As for future plans for the dealership, Buist said it’ll be business as usual for the foreseeable future but was quick to add that GM is by no means out of the woods yet with another big decision on their future expected to come in June.
“That’s the plan now but it could all change if GM goes into bankruptcy in June, and then the whole process could start over again, but hopefully the preliminary work done now by General Motors will set the bar for whether the restructuring goes through a structured bankruptcy or not,” he said. “But yes, the Pontiac line will be phased out this year and we will continue to carry on as a Chevrolet/Buick/GMC store.”
In the days and weeks leading up to the announcement from General Motors, Buist said he hadn’t noticed much of a drop in sales locally despite a number of visitors to his lot who expressed concerns over the future of the manufacturer including if they could still count on warranty and parts-availability issues, however an announcement from the federal government that they will honour warranties from any auto manufacturer that goes into bankruptcy, should alleviate some of those concerns.
“We’ve got to keep an upbeat spin and come to work with some optimism, otherwise nothing happens,” he concluded