September 16, 2009

Update: Palmen adding Chrysler to Racine dealership, still selling GM cars

Andy Palmen, president of Palmen Automotive Group, demanded a retraction this morning of our story reporting his company had lost its GM dealership in Racine.

Here's his response to our story:

1. "We are a GM dealership today and we'll be a GM dealership tomorrow," Palmen said. When asked if Palmen will be a GM dealership in a year, he said: "We're in conversations with GM. We don't know what it will look like in a year."

2. Yes, employees at Palmen lost their jobs. The company went through a "round of restructuring and reorganizing" similar to companies around the country. But he said all of Palmen's dealerships have full staffs ready to sell cars.

3. Palmen had good news to report: Palmen is close to adding a Chrysler franchise to its Dodge and Jeep dealership in Racine. The deal is up for final approval, Palmen said.

4. He disputed our report about the future of the Palmen Buick Pontiac GMC building at 6001 Washington Ave., but declined to give further specifics.

5. Palmen took offense that our original story said he didn't return phone calls. He said he received one message from us last night and returned it this morning. This is true. We had called Palmen Wednesday, but only left the one message. Palmen said we were "irresponsible" to run our story, which he called "profanity."

6. The bottom line is Palmen Buick Pontiac GMC is open for business and selling cars, and will be for some time, Palmen said. "Come on over and get that GM car," Palmen said.

Here's our original story:

More bad news for local car sales: Palmen Motors may be losing its GM dealership in Racine.

One source said Wednesday:
What I heard was Andy Palmen has informed staff GM is not allowing them to buy any more cars.
A second confirmed Palmen lost its dealerships and was planning to turn its building at 6001 Washington Ave. into a used car superstore.
They have a store that's useless. They spent a lot of money on that building. They've got to do something to pay the mortgage.
But that doesn't mean people are keeping their jobs, according to our source. Sales people, some who had worked for the dealership for years, have been laid off. It's rough, our source said.
I feel horrible for those guys. It's so cutthroat these days. It doesn't matter how hard you work any more.
A manager at the Racine dealership, Palmen Pontiac Buick GMC at 6001 Washington Ave., would only say Wednesday night: "We're still selling new cars."

But our sources said the information that Palmen lost the GM dealership is solid. It certainly fits with the national picture. GM has announced it was closing 1,300 dealerships by the end of 2010.

The news comes about a week after it was reported Racine may be losing its Cadillac dealership.


  1. We are shooting for 35% unemployment in Racine. The City politicians better get their heads out from their rumps and do something about it.

  2. Yeah, instead of worrying about fancy street lights for the cry-babies! At least when they build the superstore in West Racine, it will drop to 34.5% for a while, but then back up to 34.9.

  3. This really sad! People will be without jobs because some corporate bigshots think it's a good idea to get rid of them. My heart goes out to all of the families that this impacts. Good luck.

  4. Corporate bigshots? The Federal Government and UAW own GM.

  5. Keith Lemay is losing his store in Kenosha as well. I'm guessing Andy Palmen is hoping to hold on to his Kenosha Chrysler store.

    Always was to many dealers and cars produced by the big 3 anyway.

  6. Thank Obama. The Palmens must not have donated to him.

  7. Is this in the 10 year plan?

  8. Tim the Shrubber9/17/2009 8:48 AM

    "The City politicians better get their heads out from their rumps and do something about it."

    So, you are running for office in the next election, right? The solutions are obvious, right?

    Perhaps you could share a few right now?

  9. The 10 year plan is how much money you can make being Mayor.
    By having your cronies buy buildings you know will be used for City projects.

  10. Most of GM deserves to die - including many of the dealerships. Now maybe my 401(K) can get back to where it was a few years ago. I am sure Obama and the UAW can revive GM.

  11. #1. Keith Lemay is not "losing" his dealership in Kenosha, as in, GM is closing it. It is closing because it is poorly run.
    #2. Andy Palmen does not want to do business with GM anymore. Who can blame him? I don't think GM is forcing him to close the GM dealership.

  12. A few months ago, our '98 Pontiac -with almost 250,000 miles on the clock - was recalled for a minor fix, and I called Palmen out on Washington. From the girl who answered the phone, to the guy who was standing outside the service bay on break, to the service manager and staff - this was THE NICEST experience I ever had at a car dealership! This includes BMW, Lexus, Saab, and a Ford a long time ago.

  13. His retraction demand reads like a raving lunatic, maybe I'll buy a Toyota, I'll go see that nice fellow Ralph Gentile.....
    Heard Carmax Kenosha was losing the Chevy brand as well.

  14. SORRY! It was Boucher that I (Anon 10:01) took the car to, not Palmen. I don't have any experience with Palmen.

  15. I feel bad for the employees who lost their jobs and their families...

    But, why buy an American car these days (unless you're blindly patriotic)? They're unreliable, ugly (with rare exceptions), and depreciate far too quickly.

    Buy a Toyota or Honda if you want affordable reliability with excellent resale value. Buy a BMW or a Mercedes if you want something that's actually nice.

    I think this is the kick in the pants that GM needs to improve its product line... Ford seems to be getting its act together (i.e. - the new Taurus). I'm not so sure about Chrysler.

  16. I guess we see who ended up telling the truth. What a loser.

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