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World's top Chevrolet dealer is closing

Credit crisis and record high gas prices are to blame.

By Karen Datko Sep 26, 2009 2:51AM

This post comes from Truman Lewis at partner blog

The credit crisis and record high gas prices have teamed up to drive the world's largest Chevrolet dealer out of business. Bill Heard Enterprises is closing all 13 of its stores today, the company told its local managers on Wednesday.

Insiders said the company notified the stores' general managers of the closing at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Automotive News reported. It closed a store in Arizona earlier this month.

The Bill Heard dealerships relied heavily on the sale of pickups, which has slumped drastically since gas prices hit historic highs over the last several months. A pullback in dealer financing by GMAC also influenced the decision, reports said.

"The company had worked to develop and implement a strategy and a course of action that would enable it to operate successfully; however, the conditions necessary to sustain the business through the current challenges were not present," a statement released by Atlanta publicist Alan Ulman said. 

The company began in Columbus, Ga., in 1919, founded by W.T. Heard Sr. It developed into the country's biggest Chevrolet dealer and ran dealerships in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Texas and Nevada. At its height, the company said it sold "around $2.5 billion" a year and employed more than 3,500 workers. 

In July 2007, Bill Heard faced a $50 million deceptive-advertising lawsuit and was bombarded with a litany of complaints from consumers in the states where it operated.

More than 40 readers filed complaints about various problems with the Bill Heard dealerships.

Late last month, the Georgia Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs said in a court filing that the company had participated in "deceptive and misleading business practices." The company denied those allegations.

Bill Heard had filed a lawsuit against the Office of Consumer Affairs in May 2007 under the Georgia Open Records Act to obtain the names of people and dealerships that had filed complaints against the company.

The state filed a countersuit in July 2007 saying the company had used misleading advertising that looked like a vehicle recall notice. The state said the advertisement violated the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act of 1975.

Other articles of interest at

Published Sept. 25, 2008



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