Craig auto dealers braving bad economy, seeking a better spring

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Jerry Thompson

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Steve Maneotis

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Scott Cook

Jerry Thompson, owner of Craig Ford, said he has a simple philosophy about going to work each morning.

“I guess my saying is that I just get up and come to work every day and see what it is going to bring,” he said.

Thompson said his attitude has been developed over the many years he’s worked in car sales and is indicative that one simply can’t predict or forecast the auto industry.

That task has become increasingly more difficult in the current economic slump, he said.

“It’s still pretty slow — it hasn’t taken off like they said some things are,” he said. “But, Craig to me has always been a little slower to go into the recession and a lot slower to come out.”

The amount of auto inventory on Thompson’s lot is, more or less, where it should be, he said.

“We have got all we need for no more than we are selling,” he said. “That’s about the only way I know to describe it. If we had more business, we’d get more inventory.”

Steve Maneotis, co-owner of Victory Motors, said he has a small inventory of cars — something that hasn’t changed much since the summer.

“It’s kind of a crazy thing right now, but we are low on new and we’re low on used,” he said. “We are getting ready to re-tool and do some things and see where it takes us.”

Maneotis also said sales have been consistently slow.

But, he said the winter months have shown a little bit of promise when it comes to moving vehicles off the lot.

Times are just tough, he said.

“You have to be careful about what you do, but I think that is true for any business today — it’s a tough climate out there,” he said. “There are challenges in everything that we do.”

Thompson said the demand for used cars has increased with the bad economy.

But, used car inventory is becoming more expensive than usual due to the increase in demand.

“It’s a bit of a Catch-22 right now,” he said. “We need the used stuff, but those prices at the auction are a little bit more expensive than you think they should be.”

Maneotis said the used car market is “a crazy one.”

“It’s pretty volatile, I mean as far as the ups and downs and what the prices are on stuff, but we have had a good run of used,” he said. “If anything, that is where the strength has been between the two.”

Despite the tough market, Thompson said he has hope for the future.

“I am hearing a lot of rumors about the oil industry getting more interested and they are leasing up a lot of minerals and things like that,” he said. “So, I am hoping that we get some impact from the oil field people in the spring.”

Thompson added that he believes attitudes are shifting and consumers are finding more confidence.

Maneotis said he expects more activity in the summer, but was cautious to predict a “large spike” in business.

“Now that we are through elections and have some stability about what we are doing, hopefully we see that healthy increase in business,” he said. “But, I don’t see any huge spike of any sort.”

Scott Cook, owner of Cook Chevrolet and Subaru, said he thinks there will be a lot of pent-up demand for cars when the economic slump breaks.

“I guess I am a lot more optimistic than I was … a year ago,” he said. “A year ago nobody had any idea what was going to happen. So, I think it is going to take a little while and it’s not going to happen overnight. But, at least it is going in the right direction.”

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