An Iowa General Motors dealer has successfully appealed the company’s decision to close down his franchise. Edward Polaco owns the Family Auto Center in Toledo. G.M. announced last month it would not renew the franchise agreements of nearly 1,100 dealerships, including around 35 in Iowa.
Polaco was one of roughly 500 franchise owners who appealed G.M.’s decision. "I was kind of, more than anything, almost going through the motions," Polaco said of his appeal. "I wasn’t holding out a whole lot of hope…but I felt like it was the right thing to do – to fight for my business."
Polaco received an e-mail from G.M .on Thursday that said his appeal was rejected. On Friday, a G.M. official called and said his appeal was reviewed again and accepted. Polaco says he’s not sure why company officials changed their minds.
"In my heart, I would like to believe that it was because of the support that we had from the communities of Tama and Toledo, previous customers and the people in Washington, D.C. I sent emails to," Polaco said. "I don’t the answer to that and I don’t think I ever will know the answer to that."
Polaco says his franchise sold 398 new cars in 2008, up from 199 in 2007. "I wouldn’t say that we’re ringing the bell every month and going out and having steak dinners every night, but we are surviving and we are eating," Polaco said. The 39-year-old Polaco and his wife have two children, ages 9 and 6. He moved his family to Iowa from Southern California in 2006 with the "lifelong dream" of owning his own new car dealership.
"I put my whole life savings into it and mortgaged my house," Polaco said. "Everything that I ever had I put into that dealership so I could realize my dream." A top GM executive said last week that the company would grant 15 to 20 appeals out of 500. Polaco says he’s thrilled to be among the select group of dealers to remain in business.