GLENN: From Radio City in Midtown Manhattan, third most listened to show in all of America. Hello, you sick twisted freak. Welcome to the program. Glad you’re here. Yesterday on the TV program well, let me start earlier than that. Gretchen Carlson who is on Fox and Friends, she’s the one in the middle. She’s the girl. And I went in yesterday and she was she had a bee in her bonnet and it was all about I’m sorry for the bee in the bonnet thing. Stu just looked at me. I’m sorry, I think I did get that from the Ingalls family growing up. I’m sorry. So she was all up in arms because of the bailouts and what’s going on with the auto industry. Well, as I continued to talk to her, I realized that her family owns a car dealership and has for 90 years, and it’s a successful, profitable one. Made 103% of their goal last year. And now all of a sudden they made the first round of cuts. Now all of a sudden they’re out of business. Meanwhile Gretchen finds out that somebody who didn’t make the first round of cuts meets with a congressman or senator. We’ll get the story from her. And all of a sudden they’re back open for business. What is going on in our country? Gretchen Carlson is with us now. Is this your mom and dad, Gretchen, on the phone?
CALLER: I hope they’re with me. They are in Minnesota. I’m here in my office in New York. And by the way, I don’t mind the bee in the bonnet because Little House on the Prairie was from Minnesota.
GLENN: See what I mean? See what I mean? Hi, Karen and Lee, how are you?
CALLER: Pretty good, pretty good, thank you.
CALLER: We’re both here.
GLENN: Good. Wow, Lee, you are I mean, Karen, you sound like my mom there. My parents were from or my grandparents and my mother was from Minnesota, and you just, that was a flashback there for a second.
CALLER: Well, but she’s probably just as proud of you as we are of our daughters.
GLENN: No, uh uh, no, I don’t think so. Anyway, so tell me the story here, Lee. Your father
CALLER: Yes, sir.
GLENN: Or was it your father started the business?
CALLER: He started the business back in 1919 on Memorial Day and it was a Dodge dealership and they immediately turned it into a Chevrolet dealership and then over the years they acquired other lines like Buick, Olds, Cadillac. And we had those for many, many years and then we became what they call a metro dealer and we built a new store, and the rules at that time were you could only really have one line to be a metro store and so we went to bat and we were able to keep Cadillac and we gave up Buick and Olds. And so we’ve been sitting here now for 31 years in a new building and operating selling Chevrolets and Cadillacs.
GLENN: Okay. Now, Gretchen tells me that you guys made the first round of cuts.
CALLER: That’s right.
GLENN: And then you didn’t make the second round.
CALLER: No. We got the registered letter and the FedEx and the first sentence says we are not renewing your Chevrolet or your Cadillac franchise. And then went on to explain.
GLENN: You’ve been in business for 90 years?
GLENN: 103% of goal last year?
CALLER: And we haven’t had a losing month since the Eighties when there was 21% interest rate, you know, on anyone that bought a car. And even through all this, and the interesting thing is that we know for sure that some dealers who were kept are losing money. And the other kind of upsetting thing is the one that was given the dealership back, it seems somewhat political because it’s very hard to determine. I don’t think any of the big conglomerates, i.e., the dealers who owned six, seven, eight, nine, ten franchises in around the Minneapolis area, this particular person that was cut and was reinstated is one of those. Otherwise it’s hard to tell if any of them have lost a dealership. But they have a gag order on you. You are not supposed to tell. And Mr. Henderson said, well, he is not going to tell because he doesn’t want to ruin your business. Well, when you get a letter, FedEx on a day that they determine you are going to get the letter, it’s only fair to your employees to let them know what it says. We can’t go around pretending. Because you can’t appeal if you done tell, either. So that’s what happened to us.
GLENN: Okay. Did they have any criteria in did they have any reason why they cut you guys?
CALLER: Well, they claim that they have some criteria like profitability, sales, your capital standard, if you have enough capital in the business, your customer satisfaction. But they won’t say which one they are using or if it was a conglomeration of them or if it was something else or if it was your location. I think that was, too.
GLENN: How are you doing on all of those?
CALLER: Well, we’re wonderful. We’re way over our percentage of where we should be capitalized. We’ve been profitable. And our CSI, in fact in our sales CSI, I think we’re the top dealer in the city of Minneapolis if not second or third and our service is in line with everybody else. And it could be location. They are looking at where these dealerships are placed and what kind of a number of people that we’re representing. And I suppose that might have had something to do with it.
CALLER: Yeah, but we’re on the freeway with 13 acres.
GLENN: Wait, wait, wait. What do you mean what kind of people you represent?
CALLER: Numbers of people, I suppose, in our area of influence.
CALLER: Glenn, my dad’s being too nice.
GLENN: Yeah, tell me, Gretchen.
CALLER: Well, this is why my dad’s been so successful in business. Because everybody loves him. And this is why this will be a humongous blow to this community because everyone knows that (inaudible) run this dealership to the Nth degree and they will give you the best service possible. My dad’s being too kind because they don’t know why they were cut, Glenn.
CALLER: No, we don’t.
CALLER: What they are telling you is that they are profitable and I interviewed two more dealers on Fox and Friends this morning who are also profitable and they don’t know why they were cut. So when is America going to wake up and say that they want answers about why free enterprise is under assault in America. That’s what I want to know.
CALLER: Well, and here’s the thing. About three weeks ago or two weeks ago before they said they were going to cut all these dealers you had, you know, 13 acres, you had your building, we have a body shop, we’re profitable, we employ about 85 people, sometimes up to 100 full time, healthcare, everything. And you had a certain worth to your dealership which obviously was a fair amount. All of a sudden and last Tuesday we had nothing, nothing but a white elephant building and hard to employ employees were going to try.
GLENN: I have to tell you that I never even considered the fact that you have, for 90 years, legacy now gone. That’s it. My husband’s been a dealer for years and he has credentials including the Time dealer of the year, Time magazine dealer of the year in Minnesota, and he was the runner up in the national contest. And he’s been the president of every bank board and hospital board and church board. And, you know, I wish they would just come and visit us working at our dealership and the people we service. And they love coming. And we have a huge area of influence. I’m wondering if what they are going to do is they are going to take it away from us and give it to someone else and all our dealer franchise was now are negated. We have no rights.
CALLER: Nothing. They have taken everything away.
GLENN: So you have over $4 million worth of inventory.
GLENN: If you didn’t sign the gag order, which means that you’re talking now, if you don’t sign the gag order, you won’t they are saying to you that you can’t sell the cars. They’re yours, right? You bought them from them.
CALLER: Uh huh.
GLENN: And you won’t get any warranties on these cars.
CALLER: What will happen, as I understand it, it’s very confusing. I’d have to ask a Chrysler dealer, I suppose, because they are in the middle of it. But I think what you have to do is you have to sell those cars to another dealer or something like that at a loss so that they can then retail the car and cover it with warranties. Once we’re terminated, we can no longer do any warranty work, you see. So if we don’t sign this thing and send it in, what happens is they will put us in the bankruptcy court and the judge has the authority to probably terminate us within a week, you know.
CALLER: But Glenn, here’s the deal. They got a gun to their head because they have to sign this thing by Friday. Keep in mind that they filed an appeal which General Motors, by the way, never even informed them that they could file an appeal. They just happened to find out. They got that in by Monday night. Now you are telling me that of all the GM dealers who have been cut and all the ones that possibly are filing appeals that somebody was actually looking at those appeals on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and giving them an answer back and by Friday they have to sign this agreement or they’re dead.
CALLER: Well, and we don’t even know to whom we are appealing. That’s, we just said to the review committee we don’t know if it’s the government, we don’t know if it’s General Motors. We have absolutely no idea. And then at the end when you’re all done, you have you’re forced to give them your customer, all your customer base and your customer service base and then you have to say, well, that’s good; now you’ve cut us. And if you want to put up someone else three miles from us, we have to agree to that. So it’s
GLENN: This is unbelievable.
CALLER: It is unbelievable that they can do that to private enterprise.
GLENN: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It was originally life, liberty and property.
GLENN: I mean, the only thing they haven’t done is taken your property.
CALLER: I know, but
GLENN: They have taken everything you’ve had of worth.
GLENN: They have made it worthless.
CALLER: Well, and you know the other night I had a dream about our employees. I know all of our employees and their families and, boy, you know, in this economy if we can’t keep them on, what are they going to do?
GLENN: Lee, what are you going to do? You’ve been doing this forever. What are you
CALLER: We’ll keep operating here and we have an excellent body shop.
GLENN: Selling what?
CALLER: Well, we’ll sell used cars. We’ve always had a good used car operation. And we’ll try to expand that and we’ll also go, have to go look for other franchises, whatever that may be, if there’s anything at all out there that would be possible, you know.
CALLER: You know what that’s going to be, Glenn? That’s going to be a foreign dealer. So as much as we’re trying to promote patriotism and buying American here which I’ve done my whole life, now the answer ironically may be to have somebody like Volkswagen or Honda come in. I mean, how crazy is that?
CALLER: Well, and now all of our customers, if and when they get rid of us will be at least a 30 minute drive. And so for getting their services or even buying the car. What’s going to happen is they are just really going to lose most of our Chevy buyers. That is basically what is going to happen unless, of course, they choose someone else and us and put them in a location very, very close. It’s quite amazing when you read the documents. It’s taken away every right you ever had. And think of these people who just may have purchased a dealership and paid big money for these franchises and now they have nothing. They’re gone.
GLENN: Have you guys, have you thought about suing for any sort of restitution?
CALLER: You can’t do that according to this agreement.
CALLER: That’s why I said the gun’s to your head, Glenn.
GLENN: Wait, wait, but if you done agree to the agreement.
CALLER: Well, if you don’t agree to it and don’t sign it, like I say, in a few weeks dealers in that position will be terminated immediately rather than given this time of six to eight, ten, twelve months to wind down your business.
GLENN: So what are you going to do? Are you going to sign that agreement or are you going to stand fast and roll the dice that at some point sanity prevails?
CALLER: Well, everybody we talk to, we were at a big meeting Monday with all these dealers that have had something happen to them and we don’t know what. Nobody said anything at the meeting. But it was highly recommended by the attorneys that were there, it would be very foolish if you don’t sign it. Because it’s your only chance to hang on and see what happens down the road.
CALLER: Well, and if you sue, you have to pay all of General Motors’ lawyer fees. That’s in the contract. Whether you win or lose, you have to pay them. And our lawyer said they charge about $1500 an hour. I mean, you could be in the millions. So you could lose, which you probably would, against General Motors. You know, you can’t really fight the factory.
GLENN: No, you are not even, you are not in the fight against General Motors anymore.
GLENN: You are in the fight against the unions, the government and General Motors.
GLENN: Big business, big labor and big government. This is, this is fascism. This is what happens when you merge special interests, corporations and the government. And you know what, guys? If people like you don’t take a stand and I’m not suggesting that you, you know, don’t sign or do sign. That’s up to you. You’ve got a lot riding on it. But at some point you know what poem keeps going through my mind is, you know, first they came for the Jews. People, all of us are like, well, this news doesn’t really affect me; well, I’m not a bondholder; well, I’m not in banking industry; well, I’m not a big CEO; I’m not on Wall Street; I’m not a car dealer; I’m not an autoworker. Gang, at some point they are going to come for you.
CALLER: They are. If they can do this, they can do anything.
CALLER: And you know what, Glenn, you know who is paying their $1500 an hour general legal fees for General Motors?
GLENN: We are.
CALLER: The taxpayer. The taxpayer is paying that and that’s why people should care about all of this and they should also care because their taxes are going to go up when dealerships like my parents go under. Because how are the communities going to pay the tax revenue that Main Motors in Anoka, Minnesota was giving to the City.
CALLER: Yeah, that really is, that is completely true.
CALLER: It’s just a big chain reaction that will have a tumbling effect, there’s no question.
CALLER: Even the gas station across the street where we fill up all our cars is going to take a big hit. You are right, Glenn. People don’t realize how important. And Lee and I were trying to figure out what plan General Motors has to be profitable. I mean, how many cars do they
GLENN: Here it is. Here’s their plan. Their plan is the government is going to give $4500 rebates if you buy one of these cars. You buy a car, you get a you turn in your junker, you get $4500 to the next car. Let’s play that out. That’s a second GM bailout and then other side it is protectionism. Because now you have to protect this big American company, big American labor that your tax dollars are at stake. So you’ve got to protect it. The minute we go down the road of protectionism, look up Smoot Hawley, the minute we go down protectionism, it’s over, game over. Because other countries will do the same thing and then you’re in trouble. Then you’ve got then you’re over in this global economy.
CALLER: Well, who’s going to pay the $4500? It’s going to be the taxpayers.
GLENN: The taxpayers. The taxpayers.
CALLER: It is. And it’s going to be those people who are I mean, it’s so crazy. And eventually I can tell you one thing. Our employees here at Main Motor have it figured out. They might not have had it figured out two or three weeks ago, but they hear the writing on the wall loud and clear. And I think the rest of the American public will figure it out, too. We hope so. We hope so.
GLENN: Okay. Lee, Karen, thank you so much. And Gretchen, you stay in touch with me and let me know what’s going on, all right?
CALLER: Thank you very much for having us on.
CALLER: Thanks for your time.
GLENN: You bet.
CALLER: We really appreciate it and keep up your good work.
GLENN: Thanks a lot. We just love your daughter. She’s great. Thanks a lot. Thanks, Gretchen.
CALLER: Bye bye.