Miles Schnaer wants to keep selling Chevrolets, and he’s preparing to spend thousands of dollars to seek reversal of GM’s planned dismissal of his Lawrence dealership later this year.
Schnaer, president of Crown Chevrolet, 3400 S. Iowa, is among 37 Kansas dealers to pursue arbitration to prevent or reverse dealer closures announced last year by automakers.
“We’re preparing our case like we’re going to court, that we’re worthy,” said Schnaer, who opened his Chevrolet dealership in Lawrence 15 years ago. “It’s like going after one of your kids that somebody’s taken from you: You’ll spend all you can. … If you go to get ’em, you’re going to get ’em.”
Schnaer filed his documents earlier this week with the American Arbitration Association, the group enabled by Congress to arbitrate cases for dealers who disagree with automakers’ moves to cease franchise agreements in the face of corporate reorganizations and declining auto sales.
Nearly 1,600 dealers nationwide met this week’s filing deadline. Cases are to be decided by June 21.
Another Lawrence dealer is sitting the proceedings out.
Loris “Junior” Brubeck, who had sold Chrysler vehicles for 53 years, opted against arbitration. Chrysler took his dealership away this past June, leaving him to continue selling new Volkswagens and used cars, while also running a body shop and handling parts and service.
Even if he would have sought and won in arbitration, Brubeck said, Chrysler would impose a new franchise agreement that would mandate building upgrades and higher inventory levels.
“I’d played that game with them for 50 years,” Brubeck said. “I just decided I didn’t want to start a new game.”
At Crown, Schnaer knows what he’s up against: “General Motors is not happy because I’m doing a better job with Toyota than I am with Chevrolet.”
But he’s confident that just because he sells Toyotas next door — Crown Toyota occupies a larger showroom, on a larger lot — doesn’t mean he can’t still move Chevys.
“They woke up and realized that terminating dealers doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be a better company,” said Schnaer, who remains “fairly confident we will succeed in arbitration.”