Dinuba Ford Dealership Closed Its Doors

January 20, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Dozens of people have been laid off after a South Valley car dealership closed its doors.All day employees here have been stopping by, picking up any remaining belongings and saying goodbye. Many were shocked when they were told abruptly at the end of the day, that they were laid off and the dealership was shutting down.

Rick Lopez worked as a mechanic for Bret's Ford dealership for six years. Monday night, he and more than two dozen other employees were given their last paycheck and told the dealership would be closing down. "Everybody was just stunned, we thought we would get more of a notice and they just told that was it and then that they'll be open for a while for us to come and get our belongings and that will be it."

Owner Bret Northington moved the dealership from Reedley to this large, brand new building here on El Monte Way in Dinuba about three years ago. He had big hopes for success, but the national credit crunch and current economy weren't helping. "Everything seemed good for a while and then it started really slowing down," said Northington.

City Manager Ed Todd said he's talked closely with Northington for six months about the possibility of the dealership having to close its doors. The shut-down means a $120-thousand dollar loss in sales tax revenue for the city's budget. "In this case he didn't feel that it was the appropriate thing for him to continue on and taking the losses that he was taking and investing personally in the company"

Todd said Northington is still looking for investors and has hopes to open it back up one day. Managers next door at Ed Dena's Chevrolet said they're going to honor all service coupons that people may have from Bret's Ford dealership. "We try to take care of the community we're the only major car dealership left in the area so we want to try to take care of our community," said James Cornett with Ed Dena's Chevrolet.

Officials from Bret's did not want to talk to Action News on camera. They said they are working to find their employees jobs at other area Ford dealerships.

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