Toyota dealer for sale, in bankruptcy action

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An involuntary bankruptcy petition filed this week against Toyota of Augusta should not prevent the pending sale of its assets to a local company, officials said Tuesday.

"They have signed a contract to sell the assets of the dealership to Milton Ruben Motors," Taylor Ward, the vice president and general counsel for Southeast Toyota Distributors, said in a telephone interview. "We are hopeful that a deal can be struck between the creditors such that the sale can go through and we can get the dealership open and service our Toyota customers in Augusta."

James C. Overstreet Jr., an attorney who represents unsecured creditors in the bankruptcy petition, said his clients want that sale to go through.

The bankruptcy action was filed late Monday because, in general, unsecured creditors are better protected in bankruptcy court.

One creditor who tried to halt the sale, CAR DAR GA AUG, owns the property where Toyota of Augusta is located. It filed suit in Richmond County Superior Court, claiming it would suffer $15.5 million in damages if its commercial lease were broken.

But at a hearing Monday, Superior Court Judge Michael N. Annis ruled the sale can proceed. CAR DAR GA AUG is also a party to the involuntary bankruptcy petition.

Toyota of Augusta is currently owned by Darrow Automotive Group. Russell M. Darrow III, of Menomonee Falls, Wis., is the chief executive officer with dealerships in several states.

Toyota of Augusta is still in business. The dealership was closed for a few days but was open Tuesday. An employee there said a few cars were sold. The employee said the business "has inventory that it is trying to clear out."

Darrow Automotive Group took over the dealership in March 2007. It sold the site to CAR DAR GA AUG in May 2008 for $12 million.

Darrow Automotive Group attempted to buy its rival Toyota dealer in North Augusta last year. The deal was unsuccessful, and the Ann Taylor dealership was bought by Bob Richards.

Mr. Ward, of the Southeast Toyota Distributors, said the corporation's objective is to get the dealership to reopen as soon as possible to serve the customers. Calls made to Milton Ruben Motors were not returned Tuesday.

Business writer LaTina Emerson contributed to this report.

Reach Sandy Hodson and Tim Rausch at (706) 724-0851.

Comments (22) Add comment
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business owner again
0
Points
business owner again 01/28/09 - 04:30 am
0
0
Let me be the first to say

Let me be the first to say that Russ Darrow and his people are good folks caught in a bad situation. They have been a great customer of my company and have been a good citizen of Augusta since arriving here. It is a shame their company is caught in the crossfire of the economy and all of us should wish them the best as they try to navigate through these stormy economic seas. Many of the comments following the newsbrief yesterday came from misinformed people. Mr. Darrow and his team deserve our support.

justus4
103
Points
justus4 01/28/09 - 05:09 am
0
0
Is this the so-called "free
Unpublished

Is this the so-called "free market" working right before our eyes? What happened? How did we get here? Who is next? More questions than nswers...

humbleopinion
0
Points
humbleopinion 01/28/09 - 07:25 am
0
0
Is the dealership open or

Is the dealership open or closed? The article doesn't make it clear. First they say it was closed for a few days and then open on Tuesday and then the last sentence say they are trying to get the dealership open as soon as possible.

pointstoponder
181
Points
pointstoponder 01/28/09 - 08:09 am
0
0
I thought it was pretty clear

I thought it was pretty clear that they are open.

usnvet
0
Points
usnvet 01/28/09 - 08:14 am
0
0
I know the boys at Milton

I know the boys at Milton Ruben will get this dealership back on its feet. When all the others are gone, Mr. Ruben will still be here with his operation going strong!!

Roger17
0
Points
Roger17 01/28/09 - 09:12 am
0
0
The people at Milton Ruben

The people at Milton Ruben are so helpful and service oriented, I am sure that Milton Ruben Toyota will provide excellent service and support as they have for decades.

lemondrop
0
Points
lemondrop 01/28/09 - 09:22 am
0
0
Im excited that Milton Ruben

Im excited that Milton Ruben will be taking on the Toyota franchise. I have had nothing but good service and professionalism with them.

I4PUTT
5
Points
I4PUTT 01/28/09 - 09:46 am
0
0
justus, yes this is the free

justus, yes this is the free market at work. Not everyone suceeds and no one is propped up by the government in the free market. It's worked very well in this country and has been the envy of the world for years.

RU4Real
0
Points
RU4Real 01/28/09 - 09:53 am
0
0
I agree with Justus4, this is

I agree with Justus4, this is free market, sure the current national ecomony has played a part in this. But a good business owner would not have to be told by his creditors that he needs to close. The creditors would not be in court to protect their rights, and another division of the parent company would not be trying to block the unsecured creditors. CAR DAR GA AUG is a part of the Darrow Automotive Group. Better management could have at least helped in this situation. Americans want to continue to spend other people's money and have someone bail them out. It is only going to get worse, long before it gets better. New President and new congress can not right this sinking ship overnight, and they need the help of all of us passengers.

jackfruitpaper833
41
Points
jackfruitpaper833 01/28/09 - 11:55 am
0
0
Maybe they should have sold

Maybe they should have sold what they had before buying other cars. Like my mom use to say, don't open nothing else until this one is finished and gone LOL. So if they would have sold all the cars on their lot first then bought new ones afterwards maybe they would still be in good financial standing. Why keep getting new models in when you can't sell the others already on the lot.

karmakills123
8
Points
karmakills123 01/28/09 - 12:11 pm
0
0
First of all RU "I agree

First of all RU "I agree with Justus4" puts everthing you say in question...........it's obvious jack# you know nothing about business......(psssssst keep quiet)

jack
10
Points
jack 01/28/09 - 12:28 pm
0
0
jack# knows NOTHING about the

jack# knows NOTHING about the automobile business and really should keep his trap shut.

usnvet
0
Points
usnvet 01/28/09 - 12:41 pm
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Floor Plan.

Floor Plan.

brownskin30434
2
Points
brownskin30434 01/28/09 - 01:27 pm
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0
RU, your 8:53am response is

RU, your 8:53am response is quite eloquent and thoughtful. Someone like you needs to be in a position of power to help bring this nation through this current economic crisis.

CWDAWG
0
Points
CWDAWG 01/28/09 - 04:02 pm
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0
i think its great news for

i think its great news for augusta,milton ruben will do a great job for toyota and there customers as they have always done with chrysler and chevy,nobody in csra does a better job than milton ruben

rbs314
0
Points
rbs314 01/28/09 - 05:18 pm
0
0
Augusta as we know it never

Augusta as we know it never goes without a story coming up but as of right now Toyota of Augusta has its doors open with service and parts open,too.In the end regardless if its Milton Ruben or whoever it maybe Toyota will always be there and stand behind their customers my advice go check them out it would be worth your time.

SlapShot2
0
Points
SlapShot2 01/28/09 - 05:36 pm
0
0
dont worry Jack, that

dont worry Jack, that jackfruit guy never writes anything that makes sense.

willistontownsc
55
Points
willistontownsc 01/29/09 - 12:59 am
0
0
Good. One less company that

Good. One less company that exploit its workers.

sharpshooter
0
Points
sharpshooter 01/29/09 - 06:09 am
0
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Good luck to Bob Richards,

Good luck to Bob Richards, your family has been through these times before. You will suceed and prosper in your venture, as always.

Mark Mitchell

mable8
2
Points
mable8 01/29/09 - 04:18 pm
0
0
When the market out-prices

When the market out-prices the goods, people cannot buy; it is no wonder that there are business failures everywhere. Many of those homes that were built and sold for $500,000+ didn't even have that much in matierial and/or labor in them to justify the markup; ditto for the auto industry. Everyone wanted a "bang for the buck" by over-pricing the goods right out of the market; well, now they have a "ding for the buck" and will have to accept their losses.

heartfelt teacher
0
Points
heartfelt teacher 01/29/09 - 04:32 pm
0
0
Business Owner Again must not

Business Owner Again must not know the real Russ Darrow III. He separated from his father and went into the car business on his own. If you Google his name, wonderful reviews come up on the first page; some of those may be RDIII. But on the second page you will find RDIII in court as well as the source of some unhappy people's blogs. And what has not been reported is that the IRS some Toyota folks were the ones who came in last Friday and put up yellow crime tape as they impounded the lot. They also would not let employees leave with their personal tools and vehicles until the employee could produce receipts showing personal ownership. Where's the TRUE reporting? This is not a part of America's economic woes; it's a part of America's greedy business owners getting away with crime. Bouncing paychecks? Unpaid vendors? Let's not hear anymore applause for this man.

concercitizen
340
Points
concercitizen 01/30/09 - 04:10 pm
0
0
The depression of the 30's

The depression of the 30's was caused by exactly what is happening today. Wokers were being let go while skeleton crews were retained to keep up production. If American businesses keep laying off workers, while at the same time continuing production of their products, who will be able to purchase them. Just like in the 30's, we will wilnd up with lots full of cars and warehouses full of goods and products that American consumers will not be able to buy. I have lost my job as a result of this economy, and right now my main concern is keeping my house, car and the utilities paid. So to those who have laid off people all across America, this is the reason your sales are slumping, and if you keep producing, sooner or later your whole company will have to shut down.

carguy
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Points
carguy 02/01/09 - 06:38 pm
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I have bought many cars from

I have bought many cars from the Milton Ruben dealerships and I have serviced all my vehicles there. He runs a great operation with true professionals in sales and service. What a great car experience! So glad that Milton Ruben will be adding Toyota to the lines he carries.

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