Scott Lewis, dealer at Capitol Chrysler Dodge Jeep, did more than sigh with relief yesterday. He enjoyed a special lunch with family members and employees in the showroom of the Willimantic car dealership after learning it will remain a Chrysler dealer, as the automaker reorganizes its business.
Chrysler LLC announced yesterday it is terminating franchise agreements with 789 of its 3,200 United States dealerships. Many of those dealerships will lose their Chrysler brand and products in early June.
Capitol Garage and the Lewis family have been fixtures in the local auto business since 1934, selling and repairing Chrysler vehicles to generations of local families.
“Given our history, Chrysler has the confidence in our abilities to be a strong partner going forward,” Lewis said. “The notification letter was addressed to me, but it is meant for our employees – our team – for their hard work and customer service. We hold them in the same high esteem that they show our customers.”
In fact, Lewis made copies of the Chrysler renewal letter and hand-addressed one for each employee at the luncheon.
The last two years have been very difficult for automakers and dealers, alike. Chrysler filed for bankruptcy on April 30, making the last two weeks a nerve-wracking time for Scott and his wife, Donna. In the interim, there were plenty of rumors, but few facts coming out of Detroit.
By including Capitol Garage in its plans, both Chrysler and the Lewis family can now look ahead with a renewed sense of purpose. In fact, Scott and Donna’s son Craig who, like his father, grew up in the family business, is working in all departments of the dealership this summer while home from college.
Published May 19, 2009