Ruddell, Koenig join GM reinvention

Owners and employees of Ruddell Auto Mall and Koenig Chevrolet Subaru can conclude the second quarter of 2009 with a sigh of relief.

Both Port Angeles dealerships received participation letters last week asking them to be part of the "new GM."

"We were very happy, but it was something we expected based on our past performance," Howard Ruddell said, who was vacationing in the Midwest when the letters arrived.

Participation letters, Ruddell said, invited dealerships to join the new GM based on a list of requirements, one of which is placing competing brands in separate showrooms - something Ruddell Auto Mall already does.

General Motors filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this month, sending letters to hundreds of dealers and terminating contracts. The news came less than three weeks after the company announced its intention to reduce U.S. dealerships from 5,969 in 2008 to about 3,600 by the end of 2010 as part of an updated viability plan.

Chapter 11 bankruptcy is intended for companies that plan to continue operating and emerge financially stronger as opposed to liquidating. The process usually doesn't interrupt business operations.

Section 363 permits companies in Chapter 11 to sell assets. As a result, GM will sell the Saturn and Hummer brands.

The "new" GM will be built on the "best" brands, including Cadillac, Chevrolet, Buick and GMC, the corporation said.

The Ruddell family has been involved in the automobile business in Clallam County since 1940. The dealership sells new GMC, Cadillac, Buick and Hyundai vehicles plus pre-owned, custom, and specialty cars and trucks.

"Even through this bankruptcy, it's business as usual," Ruddell said.

"We are still selling and servicing vehicles, and your warranties are still valid."

Ruddell no longer will sell Pontiac vehicles. Pontiac announced several months ago it would discontinue unsuccessful makes and models and would pass along successful ones to other companies.

Founded in 1975, Koenig Chevrolet Subaru is the North Olympic Peninsula's oldest continuously operating GM dealership and the only authorized Chevrolet dealer. Koenig also sells trailers, scooters, motorcycles and pre-owned vehicles.

Bill Koenig, owner of Koenig Chevrolet Subaru, was unavailable for comment as of press time.

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Ashley Miller can be reached at ashleyo@sequim

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