Augusta Dodge owner says dealership will remain open after Chrysler deadline

Augusta Dodge's owner has plans to stay open even if Chrysler is successful in revoking the dealership's agreement to sell new cars.

The Gordon Highway dealership was one of 789 dealers named Thursday in a Chysler bankruptcy court filing, an attempt to get a bankruptcy court judge to cancel contracts with almost 25 percent of its dealer network.

“Chrysler is doing what they feel is necessary to survive,” said Augusta Dodge owner Greg Helfrich.

After speaking with other dealers, Mr. Helfrich said he concluded his dealership was selected because of its facility, location, and volume of used car sales to new car sales. He said that he was “not terribly shocked.”

“That being said, Augusta Dodge is a very profitable company. Even in this recession, we've been very profitable,” he said. “The hard part for me is how it affects the community and our employees.”

The Dodge dealership has 22 employees and has been in business for 12 years. Though he may not be allowed to sell new Chrysler-made cars after June 9, Mr. Helfrich can still be an active dealer and plans to sell used cars.

Mr. Helfrich said he is planning a return to Texas, and he has offered to bring some of his employees with him. He will pay their moving expenses to participate with him in other “business ventures.”

He said business has increased since the Chrysler announcement last week.

He said he has sold 25 to 30 new cars to customers and 35 cars to other dealers. He still has 90 new cars and 40 used cars to sell, he said. The dealership will also have an auction for all equipment, fixtures, computers and furniture.

Mr. Helfrich said the company is healthy and will not enter bankruptcy.

“I'd like to thank our customers for their patronage, and we'll miss them. It's been a wonderful 12 years in Augusta,” Mr. Helfrich said.

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