TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Kai Ryssdal: Fritz Henderson picked a heckuva way to wrap up the first quarter. The new CEO of General Motors spent a good long while today talking to reporters. He said he’s not worried about the Obama administration trying to actually run the company day to day. That he is going to close more plants and layoff more people than the company has already announced. And that even so, it might not be enough.
FRITZ HENDERSON: The objectives that are set for us are, that we set for ourselves, and that the task force has, are very clear in terms of what we have to get done. And what’s equally clear now is that we will either get it done out of court or we’re going to get it done in court. But we’re going to get the job done.
That court he was talking about? That would be bankruptcy court. The Obama administration has given him 60 days from tomorrow, so mark your calendars for May 28th. A lot of people who’re actually selling GM cars have done just that. They’ve been on tenterhooks waiting for the other shoe to drop for months now, and Cyndie Mynatt’s one of them. She runs two GM dealerships in Concord, N.C. Cyndie, good to have you with us.
Cyndie Mynatt: Thank you very much. Glad to be here.
Ryssdal: Are you ready for this just to be over with? For there to be a plan and get cracking on this thing?
Mynatt: Oh, I absolutely am. There has just been so much uncertainty and doubt, both in the minds of our customers, of course in myself, our bankers, our creditors, and really in our employees. We spent a lot of time assuring our customers, that we’re going to be here, our employees that we’re gong to be here, that they’re going to have a job, and it’s all going to be fine at the end of the day. Just, we need to sit this one through.
Ryssdal: But you know the new CEO of GM, Fritz Henderson said this morning, and we played some clips of him on top, he said it’s going to be rougher before it gets too much better.
Mynatt: Well, and it may well. There’s going to be still some shake out. We’ve made a lot changes internally ourselves. We know we’re probably going to have to do some more. We know among our brother dealers there’s going to be some losses. So yeah, I think that’s probably very true.
Ryssdal: Well, let me ask you about those losses. You have two dealerships here in Concord. Could this conceivably cost you one of them?
Mynatt: Well, what I would see since we have three franchises at one, and two GM franchises at the other, we could potentially consolidate those two into one dealership, which would take two rooftops, as GM is calling them, down to one.
Ryssdal: And would that be better for you and for the larger company too?
Mynatt: I think so. We’ve talked internally about what that would mean to us functionally. And we see that it would probably be a benefit. Now I still need to talk to my accountant so forth to see what kind of tax ramifications there might be. But yeah, functionally and in regard to our expenses, that would be very good for us.
Ryssdal: People would probably lose their jobs, though, huh?
Mynatt: Uh, no I don’t think so necessarily. We’ve done a little bit of downsizing. Most of our folks are paid on a commission basis. They’re producing something, either sales or repair. And some of the support people that were able to be downsized, we’ve already done that.
Ryssdal: Since Detroit went to Washington six-eight months ago, and first started talking about some kind of helping hand, how has business be for you?
Mynatt: It’s been steady. Certainly we’re off, I’d say we’re probably at our stores off 30-35 percent from this time last year. But I can say that’s also been the case at our Nissan dealership in a neighboring town. But it’s been steady now. We can tread water at this level for a long time, I believe.
Ryssdal: What’s your take on the Obama administration’s decision to get rid of Rick Wagoner?
Mynatt: Personally, I’m disappointed, because I, and I think I speak for many dealers, we’re big fans of Rick Wagoner. He’s very dealer friendly. So personally I’m saddened by that. I think it probably was inevitable. And I think the general public probably to have confidence in GM again needed that to happen.
Ryssdal: How long have you been in the car business, Cindy?
Mynatt: I’ve been in it since ’85. Our store has been there since ’76.
Ryssdal: Ever seen anything like this?
Mynatt: No, as I tell my people, there’s always a rock in the road. We’ve had strikes, we’ve had 20 percent interest, we’ve had no gas, which is worse than expensive gas. But this a new one. This is the biggest rock we’ve had.
Ryssdal: Cyndie Mynatt owns a pair of GM dealerships in Concord, North Carolina. Cindy, thanks a lot.
Mynatt: You’re very welcome. Thank you.
We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.
Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.
In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.
Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.