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My Career As An AMC Parts Counterman/Manager

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My Career As An AMC Parts Counterman/Manager

When I was a kid, my dad and Grand-dad were Hudson dealers in Corydon, IN.  N.T. Knight & Son took on the Hudson franchise in the fall of 1945, roughly coinciding with their move from the southwest corner of North Capitol Avenue and Walnut Street to the building at 119 S. Capitol Avenue.  My grand-dad, Newland T. ["Newt"] Knight, owned the graveled lot on the south side of the building.  I was born in September 1954, after the Hudson-Nash "merger," so all my life I was an AMC kid. But since the family left the AMC franchise behind in 1960, I began my AMC parts career at the old Greentree AMC-Jeep, 406 E. Highway 131–now known as Lewis and Clark Parkway–in Clarksville, IN in August of 1979.

Our parts inventory was "computerized," but nothing like today.  We could check stock, and it would be accurate as of closing the day before…since all our counter tickets were handwritten, and all parts charged on repair orders were noted on carbonized "draw-out" slips.  At the end of the day, the parts department manager would enter the information from the counter tickets and the draw-out slips into the computer…then we had a dedicated phone line we used to dial up the main Reynolds & Reynolds computer located offsite somewhere.  We inserted the handset of the phone into the fixture on the modem, and data was transferred in that fashion.

On October 1, 1979, Greentree AMC-Jeep changed ownership and became Indian Village AMC-Jeep.  On that day I became parts department manager, as the previous parts manager quit to take a job with the local electric utility.  The new owners were in a precarious financial position, although I didn't realize it at the time.  So I ran a list of parts on hand with no sales in 12 months, and we began a "dealer termination" parts return on the old Greentree AMC. I worked nights and weekends to get the return pulled and tagged and shipped back to the Cincinnati zone.  But because the credit for the return was issued to the account of the former Greentree AMC, Indian Village AMC-Jeep never saw the credit, and before Christmas we were on COD with AMC, as far as parts were concerned.

On March 20,1980 the local bankers came in and padlocked the dealership.  The new owners had not been seen in the dealership for about a week, and the general manager they had hired, one Bobby Beatty, managed to steer the bankers to the lot for a vehicle inventory while the rest of the employees were paid out of cash in the company safe and then told to go home.

In Octobe, 1983 I was hired by Blue Grass Lincoln-Mercury, 4301 Shelbyville Road, in Louisville, KY as their AMC-Jeep-Renault front parts counterperson.  Blue Grass had just recently taken over the AMC franchise from Tafel Motors, just down the street at 4156 Shelbyville Road, and Blue Grass owner Herb Vine had promised to build a separate AMC-Jeep showroom…which he never did.  We sold the heck out of AMC and Jeep parts, muddled our way through the "Appliance", er, Alliance and Encore, but by early 1985 AMC had had enough of Mr. Vine's stalling to build the showroom–he had since sold the lot at the corner of Shelbyville Road and Hubbards Lane where he'd told AMC he was planning to build their showroom–and pulled the franchise.  Just a few months prior, Jack Wilhelmi at Wilhelmi AMC-Jeep, on the corner of Bardstown Road and Douglas Boulevard in Louisville, had sold his franchise and dealership inventory–but not the real estate–to Cross Pontiac, who owned a less-than-10-year-old facility at the Watterson Expressway and Newburg Road in Louisville.  Blue Grass eventually sold their remaining parts and vehicle inventory to Cross as well, and in early March,1985, I went to work for Cross Motors, again as an AMC parts specialist.  Due to conflicts with the parts manager, I left Cross in December 1985 and thus ended my AMC-Jeep parts sales career.  Cross Motors isno linger a Pontiac dealer, but currently still carries Chrysler-Jeep products.

I continued in the parts business, with the exception of a 3-month foray as a service advisor, until late 2000, when I went to work for a company that supplied frames to Ford for the Louisville- and St. Louis-built Explorers.



Buzzman72...your mileage may vary, void where prohibited, objects in mirror may be closer than they appear, and alcohol may intensify any side effects.
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Re: My Career As An AMC Parts Counterman/Manager

This is great stuff.  We really need to have more accounts of life inside the AMC network, as there are bunches of people that have no idea what it's like to work in any position in a car dealer of any kind, and a whole lot more that are very curious about the goings-on behind the scenes.  In some cases it's simple curiosity, in other cases it provides insight into the reasons that there are so many inconsistencies with regards to how the cars were purchased, ordered, produced, and delivered.

Besides that, for me at least, these stories tend to jog the memory, and a lot of times, the sights, sounds and smells of these places begin to fall out of the cobwebs in my mind like ripe fruit, to be savored and enjoyed.

I especially enjoyed the part where the guys managed to distract the bank people in order to get everybody paid and out of there while they still had a chance.  That at least demonstrates a certain loyalty to the people whose lives were affected by the decisions of others.

Thank you for bringing back some of those times for me.
-mike
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Re: My Career As An AMC Parts Counterman/Manager

I love this stuff!!!!  As a current counterperson & former parts mgr for several Toyota dealerships in my area, these are the things I love to hear!!!  Our DMS is Reynolds as well…didn't know they were around in the late 70's…It's funny how owners NEVER change.."new facility, more help" etc…stuff like that is the reason I'm MUCH happier as a well-paid counterman vs holding the mgr title…seems like the only time being a manager mattered was when there was a problem with something…no thanks, I'll take my 13 years of Toyota (and Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, GM, Nissan, KIA) experience and let somewone else get called on the carpet when there's a problem… ;)

1983 Spirit GT
2005 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor
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