Life After GM

By WEEK Reporter
By Denise Jackson

November 1, 2010 Updated Nov 1, 2010 at 9:32 PM CDT

Nearly one year after closing, a local auto dealership reopens its doors.

The owner says despite the challenges of restructuring over the past few years, he has no doubts about re-entering the auto industry.

Last December, Jim Scherer closed two Saturn Dealerships, in Peoria and Bloomington, both casualties when GM dropped the brand under restructuring.

Ten months later, he reopened Scherer Mazda in Peoria at the same Pioneer Parkway location where his Saturn dealership operated.

"I loved what we did. We were healthy," said Scherer. "Once I found out the health and performance of Mazda and where they're heading that made the rest of the stuff easy."

Scherer says he approached Pearl Automotive a dozen times with an offer to buy Mazda from it's Heritage Buick franchise.

Pearl Operations Director Mike Udell says GM restructuring requirements meant the company would have to spend money on expansion for competitive brands, and familiarity with the Scherer family made it a win win for everybody.

"Although we were reluctant to get rid of any of our brands, it made sense with regard to the amount of money we would have to reinvest to satisfy GM," said Pearl Automotive Operations Director Mike Udell, "But we think moving forward that it would be a better Buick and GM Dealership where we are focused specially on those two brands and the new product they're bringing out."

Scherer hired 18 people with plans to add six more.

He says Saturn was a successful run but now he's focused on a new chapter for his business.

With family franchises dating back to 1905, it's no surprise that Scherer would re-enter the auto industry, so carving out his niche in a tight economy may not be his biggest challenge.

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