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Morris dealerships moving ahead in 'new GM'

Heartland Motor Company and Morris Auto Plaza have received letters from General Motors stating that both will be part of the reorganizing company's future plans.

By Tom Larson

Sun Tribune

Morris' two General Motors dealerships have received letters that they are considered key to the company's future as it reshapes itself.

Dan Dripps, owner of Heartland Motor Company, and Joel Krusemark, owner of Morris Auto Plaza, both said Wednesday that they received letters from GM stating that the dealerships would be part of company's future as it reorganizes.

That was welcome news at Morris Auto Plaza.

"We're very pleased for that," Krusemark said.

GM filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this week and has stated it wants to emerge with fewer dealerships and product lines and a more lean, efficient structure.

In May, Heartland and Morris Auto Plaza were not among the 1,100 dealerships that did not receive notification that agreements would not be renewed when current deals expire in October 2010.

But customers and other area residents have had questions and concerns since GM filed for bankruptcy, Dripps said.

"It's not the end of GM," Dripps said, "but the beginning of a new GM. I think it will strengthen the brand going forward."

Heartland Motor Company, which employs 18 people, sells Chevrolet cars and trucks. Morris Auto Plaza sells GMC, Cadillac and Buick.

The dealerships are located just two miles apart, but are unique in the makes and models they carry.

Krusemark said in May that Morris Auto Plaza employs 19 people, and that the dealership's performance led him to feel cautiously optimistic that it wouldn't be targeted for closure.

Morris Auto Plaza has won awards for having Minnesota's top market share for GMC truck sales the last two years, Krusemark said.

"I think that was really, really big for us," he said.

Both Dripps and Krusemark stressed that they have been informed by GM that warranties and service would not be affected by GM's current situation.

"It's basically a whole new ball game, but for customers it's pretty much business as usual," Dripps said.