Jack Fitzgerald: One Chrysler dealer who's not taking his shutdown without setting record straight
Wake up and good morning. Jack Fitzgerald has been around the car dealer block a few times as owner of 13 dealerships in Maryland, Pennsylvania and at 27365 U.S. 19 in Clearwater, Fla. Three of his Maryland dealerships will lose their Chrysler franchises by June 9, as will his Fitzgerald Countryside Jeep here in Pinellas County.
Dealers targeted to be shut down are making a good point -- just too late in the process now to make a difference. Chrysler made cars consistently panned in Consumer Reports' annual rankings, and then blamed the dealers when they did not sell. GM's got the same problem. It would be in last place in the rankings, if not for Chrysler.
Fitzgerald, whose Fitzgerald Auto Malls have been around since 1966, normally follows his 11th Commandment: Thou shall not dis the factory that makes the cars your dealership sells.
Consider it broken. "Some jerk in Detroit who has ruined his company is going to say I'm an underperforming dealer?" Fitzgerald told the Washington Times this week. "I've done nothing but grow every year for 43 years."
Check out Fitzgerald's own blog, The Fitzway Blog, that includes a video clip of Fitzgerald interviewed by Fox TV's Greta Van Susteren. FItzgerald is smart, articulate, critical and offers advice to the "failed management" at both Chrysler and GM. Well worth a look and listen.
Fitzgerald says he's bugged automakers to improve their consumer ratings for 20 years and, according to the Washington Times, has letters from former GM CEO Rick Wagoner and former DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche to prove it. Here's what Zetsche wrote to Fitzgerald in 2001:
"We're putting a lot of effort into increasing the reliability and quality of our vehicles, which we're expecting will result in ... even more favorable ratings from Consumer Reports."
In the magazine's April issue, which includes rankings of 2009 models, Chrysler was the lowest-rated automaker. GM was second lowest.
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist