Layoffs at Bob Silva Ford in Chowchilla

March 26, 2009 9:56:42 PM PDT
The owner of a well-known Chowchilla car dealership laid off more than half his staff Wednesday in an effort to stay open. Bob Silva Ford has been selling cars, trucks, and RV's in Chowchilla for 37 years. The business manager here says he's optimistic the dealership will stay open, but not without sacrifice.Bob Silva Ford has a prime location off Highway 99, but unlike the cars that speed past every day, the dealership has not been coasting through the recession. On Wednesday, the owner laid off about 20 employees in order to keep the business from crashing.

Bob Silva Ford Business Mngr. Christopher "Monty" Montoya said, "We did a major layoff, we did over half our staff, so for us that was big, for the community that's pretty big."

Christopher "Monty" Montoya says it was a necessary step to deal with a downturn in sales. He says during these tough times more people are fixing their old cars instead of buying news ones. Some potential buyers are also having a harder time getting loans, and high gas prices have hurt truck sales nationwide.

Several other Valley dealerships have recently shut down as a result, including Bret's Ford in Dinuba, Fresno Mistsubishi, and four major dealers at the Turlock Auto Plaza. But Montoya says he's confident Bob Silva Ford will survive. "We're real optimistic with everything that's going on, the housing market is moving, the lenders are starting to loosen up a bit, we're see some good things happening," said Montoya. And community members are counting on it.

Roberta Alford said, "I have a nephew who works there so I really hope it will turn around and work out for him."

"Bob Silva has been in the community a long time, I've known him for a long time. He's a top notch guy, and he's really involved in the community and it would be sad to see him go down," said Joe Mancebo.

Chowchilla businessman Tom Dubose, who sold his Chevrolet dealership in 2004, says losing Bob Silva Ford would also have a serious financial impact on the city.

"Sales tax, fiscally for the government and for the city coffeirs. It would be a tragedy. It would really impair this community," said Dubose.

The dealership just moved into this location about two years ago. Managers admit that's only added to the financial challenges, but they say they could have never predicted then the recession they're facing now.

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