Clark County body shops, dealerships feeling pressure from GM strike

Area dealerships and automotive shops are feeling the effects of a strike that has lasted more than a month against General Motors as parts for GM affiliated brands are becoming harder to find.

Scott Hennigan, who co-owns Maine’s Collision Repair & Body Shop in Springfield, said most area dealerships that are affiliated with GM, and provide parts to his shop, are running out of inventory.

The shortage in parts have left businesses like Hennigan’s unable to repair vehicles that require GM parts. Though he is able to take on other clients in the meantime, he estimated that half of the repairs that come into his shop in a given week are GM brands.

“We have had insurance companies that had to total out due to a lack of parts,” Hennigan said, adding that those companies have opted not to pay for rentals as it is unclear when the GM strike called by the United Auto Workers union will end.

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“Most of those customers are waiting for parts to become available,” Hennigan said.

The strike at GM involves nearly 50,000 workers across the county and has entered its fifth week. Some companies that sell GM products or build GM vehicles started to feel the effects of the strike after its first week, the News-Sun previously reported.

Navistar stopped production at its Springfield plant for two weeks due to a shortage in parts for the GM trucks and vans that it builds on its main line and line two. That decision left approximately 1,400 workers temporarily out of work, according to local union officials.

The company resumed production on its main line in Springfield last week, to build non GM medium duty-commercial trucks, bringing roughly two-thirds of those workers back to the plant, the News-Sun reported.

Bob Merchant, a shop manager for Todd Fisher’s Body & Collision Repair Center, said a shortage in GM parts has caused a minor set back for his business. As local dealerships start to feel the effects of the strike, it means they have fewer parts to provide to automotive shops.

Some local dealerships have reached out to other dealerships, while others have tried to get parts directly from GM. However, those orders are becoming more difficult due to dwindling inventories and a high cost of shipping.

Dealerships that talked to the Springfield News-Sun said the parts shortage has mainly affected the service part of their operation.

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Karen Thokey, the parts director for Jeff Wyler Springfield Chevrolet, said they are running out of common stock parts leading to multiple orders being placed to GM facilities, including those that have been heavily impacted by the strike. However, those orders are not always shipped.

“When air filters and oil filters are on back order, there is a problem,” Thokey said.

“We are concerned that we’ll still feel the impact of this in the months after the strike. At least until suppliers can build up their inventories again,” She added.

Andy Stathopoulos, a service manager for Springfield Buick GMC Cadillac, said it just depends on what parts they need. The more specialized the part, the harder it can be to find. More common parts can be shipped to the shop in a day or two.

However, for specific or specialized parts needed for a certain repair, it’s often unclear when those orders will come in. “It can be tomorrow or in three weeks. It is completely out of our hands,” he added.

By the numbers

46K: UAW members on strike

$1.13B: GM profits loss since strike

$624M: Lost wages by GM workers

The Springfield News-Sun has closely covered the impact of the GM strike on Clark and Champaign counties, as it has created a shortage in parts for GM vehicles and other brands. Past coverage includes a dip in production for Navistar’s Springfield plant that builds vehicles for GM on both of its production lines.

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