Both local Chrysler dealerships staying open

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 15, 2009

NATCHEZ — Forty Miss-Lou employees and two car dealership owners got the news they wanted Thursday morning.

Heritage Chrysler Dodge Jeep in Natchez and Performance Dodge Chrysler Jeep in Ferriday will both continue to operate as Chrysler dealerships.

Nationally 789 of Chrysler’s 3,200 dealerships received word Thursday that they would be closed. The company is in bankruptcy and announced the cuts due to low sales.

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“I thought it was probably (a) 50-50 (chance) on mine,” Performance owner Brad Yarbrough said. “There were so many variables they were using to determine who would be terminated and who got to stay. It was very difficult to know how they were weighing each variable.”

Eugene Monagan, an owner at Heritage, agreed that he just wasn’t able to make a prediction on his future prior to Thursday.

“They had us all in the dark,” he said. “I just kind of figured with all the investments I just made, I’d be OK.

“I was hoping. I wasn’t 100 percent, but I was hoping.”

Heritage has upgraded its facility, including the lot and building, in recent years.

Performance is a relatively new dealership, only two years old, Yarbrough said. But the issue that concerned Yarbrough the most was geography, he said.

Since Heritage and Performance sell to basically the same region, Yarbrough feared one might be cut.

“That made me extremely concerned,” he said. “There’s really not enough market to support two. But I’m glad we both made it. I like competition.”

Yarbrough and Monagan said they would continue to tell customers that Chrysler is a safe buy and that there has never been a better time to purchase a car.

“Thirty days ago you had a lot of reason to be nervous if you were buying a Chrysler product,” Yarbrough said. “But currently the restructuring should give you peace of mind that Chrysler is moving in the right direction.”

Heritage has 22 employees and Performance has 18.

Six Mississippi dealerships and 17 Louisiana ones were cut.