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Longtime local Cadillac dealer loses fight to sell car

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An automobile dealer that has sold Cadillacs in the Indianapolis area for almost five decades has lost its franchise to sell new models of the famous luxury brand.

Tutwiler Cadillac, near 101st and Meridian streets, changed its name to Tutwiler Automotive earlier this fall when its General Motors franchise agreement expired. The dealership, which has sold Cadillacs in Indianapolis since 1964, will remain in business selling used cars.

It was one of dozens of dealerships in Indiana and hundreds nationwide whose franchises GM discontinued in July 2009 after the company filed for bankruptcy. GM, which was buoyed with $50 billion in taxpayer funds, since has improved its financial state; its share price has ranged between $33 and $36 since the company’s stock went back on the market last month.

But that hasn’t changed the fate of outfits such as Tutwiler. The dealership fought to keep its franchise through arbitration with GM that ended this summer. Tutwiler prevailed on some fronts of its argument but lost the overall case, said Ronald C. Smith, a Stewart & Irwin attorney who represented Tutwiler in the case.

Smith would not elaborate on details of Tutwiler’s argument. But he said the company’s market plan was to have one area dealership offering Cadillacs, similar to the one-dealer strategy employed by other luxury automakers such as Lexus, Mercedes and Infinity. GM officials would not comment on the strategy.

Another local dealer, Lockhart Cadillac, sells the vehicles from its locations on North Keystone Avenue in Indianapolis and in Greenwood.

"You've got two quality families who have been on the local auto scene for decades," Smith said. "It's unfortunate the manufacturer decided it had to choose."

Nationwide, 1,233 GM franchise agreements were terminated on Oct. 31. The number of active franchises in Indiana has declined from 400 last December to 250 at the end of last month, said Ryndee Carney, a GM spokeswoman. The number of GM dealerships also has dropped from 170 to 138 statewide.

Carney would not comment on specific dealerships because the company did not publicly identify which dealers lost their franchises. But Carney said GM generally based its decisions about ending franchises on factors such as sales, profitability, working capital, location and customer satisfaction.

“We felt we came through the process with the right number of dealers,” Carney said. “We think the makeup and size of dealer network we have today gives us a competitive advantage.”

However, a July 2010 report by the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program showed that those criteria were applied inconsistently.  

Mart Tutwiler, Carmel, now owns the dealership that his father, Ed, started after moving to Indianapolis from Charleston, W.V. Mart's son Ed, the general manager at Tutwiler, said the termination “was a shock,” but the company would use the opportunity to grow the dealership’s pre-owned business.  

In addition to selling used cars, Tutwiler will continue selling parts and performing non-warranty service work.

“We have customers that are upset with the decision for closure, but I want them to know that we are still here. Our doors are open,” the general manager said. “We look at this as an opportunity.”

 

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  1. Cramer agrees...says don't buy it and sell it if you own it! Their "pay to play" cost is this issue. As long as they charge customers, they never will attain the critical mass needed to be a successful on company...Jim Cramer quote.

  2. My responses to some of the comments would include the following: 1. Our offer which included the forgiveness of debt (this is an immediate forgiveness and is not "spread over many years")represents debt that due to a reduction of interest rates in the economy arguably represents consideration together with the cash component of our offer that exceeds the $2.1 million apparently offered by another party. 2. The previous $2.1 million cash offer that was turned down by the CRC would have netted the CRC substantially less than $2.1 million. As a result even in hindsight the CRC was wise in turning down that offer. 3. With regard to "concerned Carmelite's" discussion of the previous financing Pedcor gave up $16.5 million in City debt in addition to the conveyance of the garage (appraised at $13 million)in exchange for the $22.5 million cash and debt obligations. The local media never discussed the $16.5 million in debt that we gave up which would show that we gave $29.5 million in value for the $23.5 million. 4.Pedcor would have been much happier if Brian was still operating his Deli and only made this offer as we believe that we can redevelop the building into something that will be better for the City and City Center where both Pedcor the citizens of Carmel have a large investment. Bruce Cordingley, President, Pedcor

  3. I've been looking for news on Corner Bakery, too, but there doesn't seem to be any info out there. I prefer them over Panera and Paradise so can't wait to see where they'll be!

  4. WGN actually is two channels: 1. WGN Chicago, seen only in Chicago (and parts of Canada) - this station is one of the flagship CW affiliates. 2. WGN America - a nationwide cable channel that doesn't carry any CW programming, and doesn't have local affiliates. (In addition, as WGN is owned by Tribune, just like WTTV, WTTK, and WXIN, I can't imagine they would do anything to help WISH.) In Indianapolis, CW programming is already seen on WTTV 4 and WTTK 29, and when CBS takes over those stations' main channels, the CW will move to a sub channel, such as 4.2 or 4.3 and 29.2 or 29.3. TBS is only a cable channel these days and does not affiliate with local stations. WISH could move the MyNetwork affiliation from WNDY 23 to WISH 8, but I am beginning to think they may prefer to put together their own lineup of syndicated programming instead. While much of it would be "reruns" from broadcast or cable, that's pretty much what the MyNetwork does these days anyway. So since WISH has the choice, they may want to customize their lineup by choosing programs that they feel will garner better ratings in this market.

  5. The Pedcor debt is from the CRC paying ~$23M for the Pedcor's parking garage at City Center that is apprased at $13M. Why did we pay over the top money for a private businesses parking? What did we get out of it? Pedcor got free parking for their apartment and business tenants. Pedcor now gets another building for free that taxpayers have ~$3M tied up in. This is NOT a win win for taxpayers. It is just a win for Pedcor who contributes heavily to the Friends of Jim Brainard. The campaign reports are on the Hamilton County website. http://www2.hamiltoncounty.in.gov/publicdocs/Campaign%20Finance%20Images/defaultfiles.asp?ARG1=Campaign Finance Images&ARG2=/Brainard, Jim

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