Today will be the last day Salisbury Chevrolet owner Anna Gerrity puts two bananas, a boiled egg and a couple of energy bars on General Manager Dan Carlton’s desk.
“Every morning she would come in and give me this,” Carlton said Thursday.
Many other traditions will end today at Salisbury Chevrolet, as will the dealership itself, which lost its franchise agreement as GM slashed the ranks of its dealerships.
“We want to thank all of our employees and customers — great memories. We’re going to miss them as much as they miss us,” Carlton said. “It was fun. Being in the car business — it’s a pressure cooker industry. The employees that were here and the customers we were lucky to have had in the area — they were great. The place was more like a family than a dealership.”
A hoisted American flag undulated in the breeze in the middle of a concrete parking lot Thursday, where few cars were left. The 20 or so remaining vehicles in inventory have been sold to other local dealers, who helped Salisbury avoid selling the vehicles at auction.
“A bunch of dealers were nice enough to buy our remaining new car inventory,” Carlton said.
The more-than 5-acre property — prime real estate at the intersection of Route 50 and Freemans Bridge Road, Glenville’s two main economic corridors — has apparently been sold.
“Negotiations have been ongoing for a few months,” Carlton said, without naming the buyer for the property.
Mohawk Honda, a State Street dealership that has been in downtown Schenectady for 90 years, has been identified as a potential buyer, but officials would not confirm that.
“If Mohawk Honda were to ever do anything with Salisbury Chevrolet, we would make a formal press announcement when the time was right,” Mohawk Honda General Manager James Goyette said Thursday.
Carlton did talk about what the buyer’s efforts will mean for the community. “It will be good for the community, and it will generate an amount equal to the tax revenue Salisbury was paying.”
The Gerritys bought Salisbury Chevrolet in 1983. Roy Salisbury originally opened the dealership in Ballston Spa 60 years ago.
When Joe Gerrity III died in 2001, Anna Gerrity kept Salisbury open out of concern for the employees, Carlton said. Most in that position would have just closed the dealership, he said. “We all know that we’ll never work for someone on the level that she was. She was one-of-a-kind in the auto industry. She’s a special person.”
A lot of people started their careers at Salisbury, said Carlton, like Ralph Mangino Sr., who would go on to open his own Pontiac dealership in 1978.
“My father was a sales manager for them for quite some time,” said Ralph Mangino Jr. “He actually started working for Salisbury when they were in Ballston Spa.”
The memories run deep for Carlton as well.
The Malta native was managing a Mercedes/Acura dealership in southern California when he came home to manage Salisbury 22 years ago.
Carlton’s earliest memories of Salisbury were as a young boy enjoying the dealership’s car shows.
“This is tough for me,” Carlton said. “Route 50 got obliterated pretty hard by this downsizing thing.”
Though Salisbury was only one of several area dealerships to lose its franchise — Champion Pontiac Buick in Saratoga Springs closed June 1 — the dealership initially vowed to fight GM.
“Last year we sold 528 new cars,” Gerrity said in May, after receiving the letter from GM. “Our customer service is outstanding, our training is outstanding and our repeat customers in sales and service is very high.”
Most of Salisbury’s 50 employees have already found a job elsewhere, including Carlton, who will join the DeNooyer GM dealership in Colonie as a manager of its set-to-be-launched performance division, which will focus on customizing Corvettes and similar vehicles for clients all over the nation.
DeNooyer hired 10 Salisbury employees, Carlton said.
For Elmo’s AutoBody Collision Specialists, which adjoins Salisbury, uncertainty remains.
The body shop will remain open, but its lease, which was originally slated to run through early 2011, has changed.
“The new owner has told us that we can have until the end of this year,” Elmo’s owner Donald Reckner said. “We’re not looking to leave Scotia. Part of the problem is everything has happened so fast, between them losing the franchise and accepting an offer on the building.”
Reckner also would not identify the new owner.
Elmo’s opened a location in Ballston Lake in 1989 and began the Glenville operation five years ago.
“What we liked about it is, from a customer point of view, Salisbury was a landmark,” Reckner said. “It was easy to find us.
“We’re a small piece of a big empty parking lot now. A lot of people think that because Salisbury is closing that we are too. That’s not the case,” Reckner said.
For RJD Enterprize Auto Sales owner Rick Dicresce, survivor guilt highlights the irony of his situation — Salisbury helped rally the community around his used car business, which was renting the location now set to become a new Lowe’s.
“They helped me a whole lot through my ordeal,” Dicresce said, speaking of the displacement that led him to buy a lot from Salisbury across the street from the dealership to relocate his business. “I wish I could have done more to help them.”
Dicresce said he remembers when Salisbury Chevrolet’s Glenville location was built.
“I remember when [the property] was an apple orchard,” Dicresce said, a third-generation businessman, whose family’s ventures in the area go back to the 1920s.