Dan Kennedy
Immediately following Obama's coup at General Motors, and near-takeover of Chrysler as well, there was about two weeks of news coverage of the shocking number of dealerships summarily, and seemingly arbitrarily, put out of business.

The demand for explanation of why and how one dealership was killed, while another was spared execution, was ever so briefly loud, then quieted, and finally silenced. This front page story moved to the back pages and, in short order, to oblivion - and the questions it raised were never answered.

Case in point: Ron Marhofer, the owner of Marhofer Chevrolet in the little burg of Stow, Ohio, got one of those letters informing him that his dealership would be closed. As of October 2010, its doors would be closed, and its 80 employees' jobs killed, although his access to new inventory would stop immediately after the 20 cars already on order.

You might think, well, it's a small town dealership not selling enough cars to make it worth Government Motors' trouble supplying it, but this dealership, in business since 1933, is the county's oldest Chevy dealer, and it has been having a banner year. While the auto market nationwide is down 40 percent, Marhofer's new car sales are up 57 percent for 2009 – that is before the cash for clunkers nonsense. In each of the past two years, this was the top selling Chevy dealership in the entire county. A competing dealership two communities away, in this same county, is not having such a good year, but it was apparently chosen to profit from Marhofer's execution.

When Marhofer pressed GM for explanation of his dealership being selected for slaughter, he was told "We can't tell you." One wonders who has dictated to GM that it can't explain. Since Mr. Marhofer and his 80 employees are tax payers and, thus, actually own GM, it would seem particularly reasonable for them to demand and get a rational explanation for their execution. Even in most communist or dictator-run countries, some charge is brought and at least a mock trial is conducted before sentence passed. The victim is given some reason for his beheading.

Of course the fates of Mr. Marhofer, his paltry 80 employees, and the employees at other small businesses near his dealership, are of no measurable consequence to you or me or, certainly, the Great and Wonderful Ozbama. He has bigger fish to fry, but multiply Marhofer times a hundred and you're talking 8,000 jobs. If you multiply by two hundred, it's 16,000 jobs - good blue collar jobs for mechanics and service techs, and clerical jobs held by working moms. In Congress and the media, much shouting has gone on much longer over much less.


Dan Kennedy

Dan Kennedy is a serial entrepreneur and contributor to the Business & Media Institute.