Junior Brubeck never expected to get a FedEx letter, notifying him that the business he’d helped build since 1956 would be pegged for losing its biggest brands.
But now that the improbable bad news has arrived — Chrysler on Thursday included Jim Clark Motors among 789 dealerships set to lose their dealership agreements as part of Chrysler’s bankruptcy reorganization — Brubeck is left to find optimism among the fallout.
“I’ve been doing this for 53 years in Lawrence, Kansas, and I’ve got thousands and thousands of customers,” Brubeck said. “We will not just say, ‘Hey, it’s all over’ at this point. We will fight it and do all we can. We will maintain a dealership. We’re not going to go anywhere right away. What’s to be done with the franchise is yet to be seen in the future, but we will progress with this.”
Jim Clark will continue to sell and service Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles, he said, although the dealership will not receive any more vehicles from the automaker.
Jim Clark also sells Volkswagen and used vehicles, and those operations are not included in Chrysler’s decision.
“We’ve got an excellent service department and an excellent body shop,” Brubeck said. “I’m not saying we won’t have to downsize — it’s devastating now — but we are here today and we’ll be here tomorrow.”
Jim Clark has 47 full- and part-time employees at its five-acre site at 2121 W. 29th Terrace, in the Lawrence Auto Plaza.
So far, Chrysler has upheld all of its responsibilities regarding reimbursements involving new-car rebates, warranty repairs and other financial matters, Brubeck said.
“They’ve paid me what they owe me, so far,” Brubeck said. “Now we test them, from now on.”
Brubeck said Jim Clark Motors would continue to perform warranty service work, until otherwise instructed. If he does end up losing the Chrysler agreement, owners of such vehicles would need to locate other dealerships in Topeka, the Kansas City area or elsewhere.
Brubeck is counting on the vast numbers of such customers to help him retain his affiliation with Chrysler.
“Evidently, they did not investigate the market before they made this decision,” he said. “Too many of their customers will be affected. They’re going to affect us and our employees, but their customers are the ones that will be affected.”