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Gold Rush Chevrolet to stay open

Auburn dealer gets reinstated by General Motors; new vehicles possibly by June
By: Andrew DiLuccia, Journal Motoring Editor
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It took three letters and a request for arbitration, but Gold Rush Chevrolet of Auburn finally got the answer it was looking for — its doors will stay open. Steve Snyder, owner of Gold Rush Chevrolet/Subaru, said Friday afternoon that he received a letter from General Motors granting reinstatement of the dealership, which was slated to close its doors for good in October 2010. “We can now order cars and do all the things we were supposed to be doing,” Snyder said. According to Snyder, in May of 2009 his Chevy dealership received a letter from GM saying it was going to close down the Gold Rush franchise by October 2010. After the notice, Snyder submitted two letters to the Detroit automaker requesting reinstatement but received no response. It wasn’t until Congress passed a law requiring arbitration, for which Gold Rush filed, that General Motors got in contact with Snyder. “They came in and talked to me, and offered me money, and I said I wanted to keep my dealership open,” Snyder recalled. GM then asked for the Gold Rush Chevrolet owner to write a third letter explaining why his dealership should be reinstated. After the final correspondence the automaker agreed with the only GM dealer on Highway 49 from Auburn to Grass Valley. “You know what’s interesting is that a small dealer can win against a large corporation, if you persevere long enough,” Snyder said. “We probably just wore them down.” On Friday Snyder signed the contract for reinstatement and was sending it back to General Motors. Once the manufacturer signed off on the agreement, the dealership would then have access to its computer network, allowing it to order new-vehicle inventory. The process could happen as early as this week. “We don’t have a single new Chevrolet in stock. We sold them all,” said Snyder, who’s been selling Chevrolets for more than 30 years. “We made a conscious effort that when Cash for Clunkers came out, we would advertise and sell every one we had. We haven’t had any new Chevrolets for six or eight months.” If the contract is signed by GM this week, Snyder said the automaker has promised to expedite his order of vehicles, making it possible to have new cars and trucks at 570 Grass Valley Highway by June. As for why the automaker initially decided to end its dealership agreement with Gold Rush Chevrolet, Snyder still doesn’t know. “I just couldn’t figure out how they could do that. In the end, General Motors was looking at the number of cars and trucks they need to sell, and they determined they couldn’t get those sales they needed with the number of dealers they had,” Snyder said. “They had to go back out and reinstate.” Snyder said that while his sales numbers were down, it wasn’t enough to cancel the dealership as Gold Rush ranked in the top 5 percent nationally when it came to customer service. “I think I was a pretty good person for General Motors,” Snyder said. “And when they looked at these things and put a human face on it, they must have said, ‘Yeah, he’s right. We do want him back.’” Snyder informed his staff of 30 Friday that the dealership would remain open. During the process for reinstatement the car dealer didn’t lay off employees and held on to most of its parts inventory, with the hope that Gold Rush Chevrolet would be reinstated. “They’re very happy, and I’m proud of them that they stuck through the hard times,” Snyder said. “It paid off for them.” And the reinstatement could pay off for the city of Auburn and the local business community as the only new car dealer within the city limits will be contributing sales tax to the city. “It’s great news, and we’re really happy,” said Auburn Chamber of Commerce CEO Bruce Cosgrove. “Happy for Steve Snyder, happy for his employees. It’s just really good news in these economic times.” Andrew DiLuccia can be reached at andrewd@goldcountrymedia.com.