Ninety years of family ownership will end when Mike Grossman closes Grossman Chevrolet and Cadillac in Burnsville later this month.
The dealership was one of about 2,000 nationwide targeted for closure by General Motors after its bankruptcy and a takeover by the federal government. GM's strategy coming out of bankruptcy was to try to sell more cars through fewer dealerships.
Grossman, who said his business had a healthy $75 million in sales last year, considered going to arbitration in hopes of having the business reinstated. But the drawn-out process and a reluctance to continue his association with GM led to a change of heart.
"It's a travesty," Grossman said, arguing against the government's right to decide the fate of a private business. "I've done all I can. All I can do is move along. I'm not going to let it eat up my life."
The 15.5-acre site just north of County Road 42 near Burnsville Center has been sold to Costco, which expects to open a warehouse store there in November. Grossman said he expects Costco to close on the sale in June.
Grossman estimates GM's decision will cost him $10 million to $12 million. He said the $4 million he put into adding the Cadillac brand and a related remodeling of the dealership is lost. The building was appraised at approximately $10 million after the remodeling, Grossman said, "but I didn't get close to that from Costco. They just bought the land."
Along with the financial loss, Grossman is dealing with the end of a business that has passed through generations of his family.
"It was a constant in our lives," Grossman said. "Even for the cousins, the nieces and nephews who weren't involved in the business, they were proud to be associated with the name."
Grossman has worked out a deal with Lupient Chevrolet in Bloomington to hire some of his employeesand to satisfy the service needs of some of his customers.
Sales at the Burnsville site have been reduced to selling off the remaining used cars -- numbering approximately 70 -- on the lot. Those that don't sell will go to auction. All equipment will be liquidated in an online auction. Grossman expects the dealership to be vacated in two weeks.
Grossman said he is in discussions with a couple of other entities involved in the auto industry but isn't sure anything will develop. "There were a lot of people looking to sell when things were going bad in the car business," Grossman said. "The sense is things might be better now so now they aren't so sure."
If he does remain in the car business, Grossman said, it won't be in partnership with GM. "I could not represent them in good faith," he said.
As for the future of GM, Grossman said he expects it to prove to be "as successful as any other government enterprise."
Dean Spiros • 952-882-9203