Biggest Chevrolet dealer turning out the lights
"Bill Heard Chevrolet of Sanford closed its doors at the end of business Wednesday, part of a shutdown of all 13 of the Georgia-based Bill Heard Enterprises dealerships nationwide.
"Whether the store will reopen under new management, or by Chevrolet itself, remains to be seen.
"According to a statement from Bill Heard Enterprises about 2,700 employees will be affected by the closings.
"The company blamed "rising fuel prices, a product portfolio of mostly heavy trucks and sport utility vehicles, economic recession, unfavorable local market conditions for vehicle sales, the crisis in the banking and financing sectors, and other factors all combined to create a business environment in which the company simply did not have the resources needed to continue to operate.''
"Susan Garontakos, GM's manager of dealer communications in Detroit, said that Chevrolet has no ownership stake in the Bill Heard operation, and she had no knowledge of whether the Sanford dealership will remain open. GM does have the option, she says, of essentially running the dealership for a "brief" period of time while a new owner is sought.
"Meanwhile, Garontakos stressed that Bill Heard Chevrolet customers will be taken care of, if not by that dealership, then by nearby stores. Still, customers who have ongoing transactions with Bill Heard must deal with that company, as "our dealers are independent businesses, and General Motors is not directly part of that process."
"Heard's 13-dealership network includes the store in Sanford and one in Tampa, as well as dealerships in Nevada, Texas, Tennessee, Alabama and the comany's home state of Georgia. Heard, bileld as "Mr. Big Volume," shut its Chevrolet dealership in Scottsdale, Arizona earlier this month."