Wishing for new cars in Wishek

2009-07-30T00:00:00Z Wishing for new cars in WishekLAUREN DONOVAN Bismarck Tribune Bismarck Tribune
July 30, 2009 12:00 am  • 

WISHEK - In Wishek, wishes came true for Pfeifle Chevrolet.

After being notified last week that it's been spared the corporate axe, it has another wish: more new vehicles, ASAP.

Rob Pfeifle said he received notice last week that GM Co. has reinstated the dealership's franchise after being one of 1,100 across the country told in May it would lose it.

The car giant is regaining its financial feet after bankruptcy and about 70 dealerships - including Wishek - will get continued franchise agreements after all.

Pfeifle Chevrolet will pause to celebrate, expecting this Sunday's annual golf tournament will be more fun than is par for the course. Then it's on to figuring out the future for this 91-year-old institution.

Pfeifle badly needs some shiny new cars and pickups on the lot. He and sales manager Dale Meidinger have sold about down to the bare pavement, out on the east end of Wishek's main street.

It's a new day out there and an uncertain one in some ways still. One main question is how soon GM Co. can get assembly plants back into full operation and start shipping 2009 inventory.

"You can't sell it unless you have it," Pfeifle said.

In a normal year, he'd be awaiting the exciting arrival of 2010 models in a couple of months.

He already knows the next model year's production will be later than normal, plus there's a pickup shortage to deal with.

He can order vehicles, now that his franchise is reinstated, but how soon the lot will be restocked is guesswork.

"This is the weirdest its ever been," he said.

GM Co. dealerships up the road at Wentz Chevrolet Napoleon and down the road at Ashley were not so fortunate.

Their franchise agreements have not been reinstated, and Pfeifle said he's talking with both of them about arrangements whereby Napoleon continues as Wentz-Pfeifle Automotive with similar deal at G&G Chevrolet in Ashley.

Amidst the uncertainty, there is a hopeful attitude at the dealership.

The employees have all worked there a decade or longer. While Pfeifle planned to keep the doors open to car sales even without a franchise, the reinstatement means all the GM training in parts, technology, warranty and repairs will continue to be put to good use.

David Brendel, service manager, said he's happy to be spared any job hunt.

"I was hoping this would work out," he said.

Meidinger, who's also part owner of the dealership, said when the good word came down, "I was just as surprised as anybody."

They all hope when the new inventory does arrive, customers who've been disinclined to make vehicle purchases in this economy, will arrive, too.

Meidinger said now that the dealership has a new lease on life, he hopes people in the area will help it stay alive.

"This should be an eye opener for what we almost lost and now have again," Meidinger said. "Once it goes away, it'll never be coming back. Hopefully, this will build more loyalty."

Pfeifle agrees that the bad news followed by good news was a lesson in "how quick we can't be here. We got a second chance." He gives credit to many customers who wrote letters to GM on their behalf.

The dealership is in its third generation, started by granddad E.P. Pfeifle in 1918 and continuing with dad Armand Pfeifle in the mid-'50s. Rob Pfeifle joined in 1984.

Unlike he did in May, two short, but rollercoaster months ago, Pfeifle feels confident the dealership will see a century of family ownership.

"This should mean that we'll be here for 100 years," he said.

(Reach reporter Lauren Donovan at 701-748-5511 or lauren@;westriv.com.)

Copyright 2015 Bismarck Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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