Swanty spared from Chrysler purge

Ailing automaker closing hundreds of dealerships, but none in Mohave County

KINGMAN - None of Mohave County's three Chrysler dealerships will be affected by the automaker's disclosure Thursday that it plans to close nearly a quarter of its 3,200 American car dealerships by June 9.

Chrysler revealed its intention during a bankruptcy court filing, where the company claimed its existing dealership network currently causes too much competition between dealerships, with roughly half of all dealerships accounting for 90 percent of the automaker's domestic sales.

The full list of the 789 affected dealerships was released early Thursday and includes only five Arizona dealerships: one each in Superior, Flagstaff, Mesa, Wickenburg and Phoenix. Other states, however, were not so lucky, with 32 dealerships closing in California, 36 in Florida and a whopping 50 in Texas.

Dealerships were contacted verbally Thursday morning by a company spokesperson who informed them of whether they were on "the good list" of surviving dealerships, or were among the quarter to be axed. Local dealership mogul Martin Swanty said he was informed that neither of his dealerships at 2640 East Andy Devine Avenue in Kingman and 2494 South Highway 95 in Bullhead City would be closed, nor would the county's third Chrysler dealership, Anderson Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge in Lake Havasu City.

Swanty added that he expected official written notification of his dealerships' survival to arrive in the mail sometime Thursday afternoon.

"All three of us in Mohave County are on the good list," Swanty said. "I'm a Chrysler dealer in my 31st year, five-star dealer 31st year, and nobody can put us out of business. We're here to stay, forever and ever."

The news comes as a welcome relief to a city whose administrators are trying to determine how to maintain essential services despite a diminishing sales tax base that is only likely to shrink further following last month's departure of Anderson Toyota from 4195 Stockton Hill Road.

"Auto dealerships in Kingman provide huge contributions to our community in many ways - they directly employ hundreds of people, they provide products and services needed and desired by the people in our community and surrounding area, they donate time and money back into the community, and they provide significant tax dollars to schools and governmental services," said city Financial Services Director Coral Loyd. "The loss of Anderson Toyota is huge to the city of Kingman as an organization. Had the Martin Swanty dealership also closed, the two combined would have been devastating to the city's ability to continue to provide municipal services at current levels."