Car salesman gets heavy, prompt response to petition to General Motors

When Doug Docherty learned recently that a job he had taken two months earlier was in jeopardy through no fault of his employer, he decided to take some action.

He started a petition to send to the automaker, which filed earlier this week for bankruptcy protection in the United States. The American and Canadian governments are planning a massive bailout, but that is beside the point to Docherty.

Three days after his petition started, he wrote to General Motors, “Once again I am submitting an updated copy of our petition asking GM Canada to reconsider the closure of GM dealerships across the country.  We’ve had over 1,000 signa­tures in less than three days.

“When GM Canada made this decision [to close up to 290 of its dealerships], it should have noted that none of the dealerships that are subject to closure are owned by General Motors.  All of them are private businesses that would go out of business on their own if they were badly run and weren’t viable.  The marketplace itself should determine their fate.”

Docherty said, “I just came to Robinsons two months ago, expecting it to be a career. There’s 45 others here.”

Docherty said in his area, alone, over 200 people are affected, and the way GM decided to close car dealerships makes little economic sense to him. He noted Guelph, which has over 100,000 population, had two dealerships, and GM closed Robinsons, but Orangeville, which has a population of 29,000, kept both of its dealerships.

He said he estimated about 4,000 jobs will be lost nationwide, but stated that the Toronto Star, which has far more resources than Docherty, has estimated the job loss at 13,000 across the country. He said that considering there were 12,000 jobs lost in GM factories, the effect is enormous.

Docherty said he is receiving “lots of calls” at home and work, from upset people and dealers interested in his petition. “Some are even coming in to the service bay to sign them,” he said.

Docherty said of the GM decision, “It’s not good business to alienate your customers.”

What really bugs Docherty is the bailout of the company by taxpayers.

“Ultimately, it’s the taxpayers. We’re funding our own job elimination.”

Docherty noted that most dealerships are heavily involved in their communities, and he said “all that will be lost” unless the remaining dealers “pick up the slack.” He said some might, but others might continue on as they always have.

The petition states, “We, the undersigned, are against the proposed withdrawal of the General Motors name from the Canadian dealerships. The clo­s­ure of these franchises will decrease the level of service to us, the GM customers, will lim­it our ability to shop and buy locally and will be a financial hardship on our local owners, managers, service technicians and sales representatives.

We would ask that you reconsider this ill advised move or we may be forced to con­sider automobile alternatives when it comes time for our next vehicle purchase.

Docherty passed along a response from one of the people at GM, Stew Low, who wrote to him, “I expect we will never agree on this one.  There are many factors at play here including the exit from Saturn, Hummer and Pontiac and the fact that even before that happens, in some areas we have to [sic] many dealers for the long term health of the dealer channel.

“These are difficult and tough decisions. In most cases if not all, we know the dealers their families and employees well. But as tough as it is it is necessary.”

The dealers in the Welling­ton County area have all stated they intend to remain in business somehow.

Docherty is still collecting signatures, and said anyone who wants to add a name to the petition can do so at