Retail Front

Unlucky Dealer Stays Upbeat

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George Nahas is an unlucky dealer. You wouldn’t know that from talking to him.

He was his upbeat self when I ran into him at the National Automobile Dealers Assn. convention in Orlando, FL, last month.

He slapped me on the back and said, “So how is the greatest auto journalist in the nation?” Well, that felt good.

It reminds me of what a former newspaper pal, Tony Bittick, told me about a local youth-aid agency director:

“Whenever I talked to him, he’d end the conversation saying, ‘Tony, you are a great person.’”

Bittick invariably felt touched hearing that – even after learning the agency director said that to virtually everyone. No wonder the guy was so good at fundraising and enlisting people to his cause.

Nahas was a single-point Oldsmobile dealer in Florida. When General Motors offed Olds, the auto maker gave him something for his loss: two Saturn dealership franchises.

Of course, now GM has yanked the plug on Saturn, too. Still, Nahas stays bright.

In a convention speech, John McEleney, the 2009 NADA chairman, praised the twice-burned dealer, quoting him as saying, “If I anguish over this, it’s just going to make me a lesser person.”

Nahas says his main concern is to make sure his staff ends up OK. But he’s not campaigning for sainthood. He’s not so serene that he won’t rap GM for how it handled the Saturn termination, sort of like a bear performing surgery.

“Dealers should not have been strung along, taking the losses,” he told me last fall, when the GM-Roger Penske deal to save Saturn died. “We’re the ones who drank the Kool-Aid.”

But then he had me reassure him he wasn’t going to come across in my article as a disgruntled dealer sticking it to the auto maker. “I want to be positive,” he said.

There is a chance Nahas might get yet another GM franchise. He’d like that, despite what he has been through.

After all, he says, “I’ve spent 30 years selling nothing but GM products.”

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What's Retail Front?

Blogs about automotive retailing, commenting on news impacting the business of selling vehicles.

Contributors

Steve Finlay

Steve Finlay is the editor of WardsAuto Dealer Business magazine. His journalism career started 40 years ago as a crime reporter. A Michigan native, he likes fast cars, big lakes and cold days.

Jim Ziegler

Jim Ziegler, president of Ziegler Supersystems, is a trainer, commentator and public speaker on dealership issues.
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