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Old 11-11-2015, 10:16 AM   #1
XDCX
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Default Fiat of Pensacola closes down

A news report indicates that Fiat of Pensacola has closed down. For the full report - click here

While I don't know any details other than what was provided in the news story I have to think it would be a real struggle to make a Fiat/Alfa point viable and if a Dealer Principal wanted to sell the store there probably wouldn't be too many buyers.

It is interesting that Fiat of Pensacola was one of only 86 Fiat stores that was awarded an Alfa Romeo franchise. I'm still not sure I understand FCA's rationale to give the Alfa franchise only to select Fiat stores.
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Old 11-11-2015, 10:59 AM   #2
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HAAha...Fiat.
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Old 11-11-2015, 11:35 AM   #3
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As much as I dislike Fiat, I feel for the dealer that drank the Kool Aid and made the investment. Brings back to many memories.
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Old 11-12-2015, 06:42 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by steve_biegler View Post
As much as I dislike Fiat, I feel for the dealer that drank the Kool Aid and made the investment. Brings back to many memories.
I agree.

I remember when Auburn Hills first pitched the idea of a stand alone Fiat store to CJDR dealers at an invitation only event. While the expectations of Fiat's return to the U.S were lofty it didn't take too long for reality to set in.

For most of the Fiat stand alone Dealer Principals I get the impression that the success or failure of their Fiat store wouldn't significantly alter their net worth. I have no idea whether that's the case for the owner of Fiat of Pensacola or not.
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Old 11-12-2015, 06:46 AM   #5
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Default In fairness to FCA, some markets are opening new Fiat stores

In fairness to FCA I should point out that there are other markets that are adding Fiat stores, so the closure of the store in Pensacola is not necessarily representative of the health of the brand or the dealer network.

From what I've noticed, it seems that most of the new Fiat stores are add-ons to an existing CJDR dealership. As so many people here have noted, this is the business plan that Auburn Hills should have adopted in the beginning.
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Old 11-12-2015, 08:42 AM   #6
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Not sure if this would indicate anything about the FIAT stand alone stores or not, but found it interesting. AutoNation announced a few weeks ago that they were acquiring all of the Allen Samuels Auto Group stores in Texas. For those not familiar, Allen started out as Sales manager for Bobby Steakley at Steakley Chevy in Waco back in the 70's, worked for Century Chevy in DFW, then opened North Loop Dodge in DFW area with Chrysler's assistance and continued to expand into other markets and eventually had around 17 stores all over Texas by 2000 when he brokered a deal to sell all of them to a group comprised of his Dealer Operators and Managers. Allen got about 50% of the money up front from the lenders and cosigned the note for the rest with the bankers doing the deal. In the credit crunch of 2008 he wound up getting all the stores back and also was "gifted" the three separate Dodge, Chrysler Jeep franchises in Waco, 30 days after they were all terminated on 3/9/09, to add to his Chevy and Mercedes dealerships there with the condition that he build a new facility to house all three which he did. He was also given the Fiat franchise when it came out and evidently agreed to build a stand alone store at some point. He broke ground on the Fiat facility about 3 months ago. The deal with Autonation, did NOT include the new stand alone FIAT store, but I'm sure he got a big enough price for the rest that he can eat that one and never miss it.

Last edited by DealerEx; 11-12-2015 at 03:13 PM.
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Old 11-12-2015, 02:47 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by XDCX View Post
I agree.

I remember when Auburn Hills first pitched the idea of a stand alone Fiat store to CJDR dealers at an invitation only event. While the expectations of Fiat's return to the U.S were lofty it didn't take too long for reality to set in.

For most of the Fiat stand alone Dealer Principals I get the impression that the success or failure of their Fiat store wouldn't significantly alter their net worth. I have no idea whether that's the case for the owner of Fiat of Pensacola or not.
Fiat of Pensacola is owned by the Toyota dealer in Daphne AL (near Mobile AL),he also owns Headquarter Nissan in Columbus GA which he bought out of bankruptcy court a couple years back. These stores are both high volume stores, with expensive facilities. Pensacola is a deep south mentality market (everybody knows everybody) with the major employer being Eglin AFB and its base contractors.

There is a big Dodge store (H-K) in Pensacola that has been owned by the same family for over 50 years. This dealer was gifted the Chrysler and Jeep franchises in 2009. They have the contract with the state of FL for fleet vehicles (FHP, county sheriffs depts, etc) and have been retailing around 100 new units monthly for 50 years as well. They are not going anywhere and will probably end up with this deal if they wanted to have it.

The Toyota guy must have gotten tired of taking a hit there every month and dealing with the expenses on a new facility in a bush league market.

Back in the late 1980s until 2000, Hyundai had a hard time keeping a dealer open in Pensacola.

Last edited by rd3311; 11-12-2015 at 02:53 PM.
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Old 11-14-2015, 07:52 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by DealerEx View Post
The deal with Autonation, did NOT include the new stand alone FIAT store, but I'm sure he got a big enough price for the rest that he can eat that one and never miss it.
That's interesting - thanks for the information.

In the Phoenix area AutoNation built a standalone Fiat Dealership about one mile away from their existing CJDR facility when the Fiat brand was first launched.

The nearby AutoNation CJDR facility is huge, it's modern and it has great freeway viability. AutoNation could have easily added Fiat to their existing CJDR facility and saved a ton of money in real estate, construction, overhead and management expenses.

Based on their experience in Phoenix, I'm betting that AutoNation isn't interested in adding another standalone Fiat Dealership that likely won't bring any money to the bottom line.
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Old 11-14-2015, 07:55 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by rd3311 View Post
Fiat of Pensacola is owned by the Toyota dealer in Daphne AL (near Mobile AL),he also owns Headquarter Nissan in Columbus GA which he bought out of bankruptcy court a couple years back. These stores are both high volume stores, with expensive facilities. Pensacola is a deep south mentality market (everybody knows everybody) with the major employer being Eglin AFB and its base contractors.

There is a big Dodge store (H-K) in Pensacola that has been owned by the same family for over 50 years. This dealer was gifted the Chrysler and Jeep franchises in 2009. They have the contract with the state of FL for fleet vehicles (FHP, county sheriffs depts, etc) and have been retailing around 100 new units monthly for 50 years as well. They are not going anywhere and will probably end up with this deal if they wanted to have it.

The Toyota guy must have gotten tired of taking a hit there every month and dealing with the expenses on a new facility in a bush league market.

Back in the late 1980s until 2000, Hyundai had a hard time keeping a dealer open in Pensacola.
Great post - thanks for the information.

Interesting insight into the Pensacola market - if Hyundai had a hard time getting a foothold I can see why Fiat would struggle.
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