This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 19, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: U.S. auto maker Chrysler has terminated its relationship with 789 dealerships across the country. That means about one fourth of the dealerships that currently sell Chryslers in the United States soon will not. Jack Fitzgerald, president of Fitzgerald Auto Mall, owns five of those 789. Earlier, he went "On the Record."
VAN SUSTEREN: What is the 11th commandment you were telling me about?
JACK FITZGERALD, PRESIDENT OF FITZGERALD AUTO MALLS: Thou shall not dis the factory. We all try and observe that...
VAN SUSTEREN: All right...
FITZGERALD: ... most of the time.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let's talk Chrysler.
FITZGERALD: Yes. Well, ordinarily, I wouldn't tell that you they're in last place in "Consumer Reports" rankings, although you probably already know that. But we wouldn't say that normally on television.
VAN SUSTEREN: How's GM doing?
FITZGERALD: Well, they'd be in last, too, if it weren't for Chrysler.
VAN SUSTEREN: So what's going on? Why is Chrysler in last place?
FITZGERALD: Well, because they don't put enough money into their cars. They put too much into their pocket and not enough into the car.
VAN SUSTEREN: What happened to Chrysler, though? I mean, it used to be a car that sold. I mean...
FITZGERALD: Oh, yes. When I opened my Chrysler store in the '60s and the '70s, 23 percent all of the cars recommended in "Consumer Reports" were Chrysler models -- 23 percent. Forty-three percent of the cars were GM models. Those two guys had two thirds of the recommended models in "Consumer Reports." You know what they've got today? Chrysler has 6 percent. GM has 8 percent.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why?
FITZGERALD: The imports have 75 percent.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why? What happened?
FITZGERALD: Well, what has happened is that these brilliant managers out of the Wharton School and other places have figured out that they know more about the business than anybody else, and so they keep taking money out of the product and selling it with smoke and mirrors. And that might work with soap or canned goods, but it doesn't work with automobiles.
VAN SUSTEREN: So if you can always sell them on steep discount, who's taking the hit, Chrysler or you?
FITZGERALD: I'll take the hit. Once Chrysler's in bankruptcy, everybody gets hurt but them. They stop hurting, they hurt everybody else. That's how that works.
VAN SUSTEREN: Because that's -- I mean, for the individual car dealership who only sells Chrysler, I mean, it must -- I mean, that's the end of the game.
FITZGERALD: Oh, it's personal bankruptcy because they keep -- all that money is borrowed. And to get the loan, those guys signed personal guarantees. You're going to wipe out whole families. This is a very, very, very serious matter. It's awful what they're doing. And they're using your tax dollars and mine to abuse people that way.
And I know this administration doesn't realize that's going on. This is a bunch of whiz kids from Wall Street. They've got a lot of quick answers to very complex problems that they really don't understand. They think they do, but they don't.
Like the used car angle. Nobody walking up and down the street would ever tell you that GM and Chrysler sold 10 million more cars last year than Toyota and Honda combined, but they did. But it's the used car side that nobody talks about. Detroit has a huge population of cars, 150 million. Who's going to take care of them? It took 40,000 dealers to service 50 million cars when I got started. So now you got 13,000 to service 150 million cars. And these two geniuses, the management, the failed management at GM, the failed management at Chrysler, they're going to wipe out 3,400 more.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you blame this on sort of economic circumstances in the economy or do you blame this on management of Chrysler and GM?
FITZGERALD: Well, it's a combination of things. It's mostly management at Chrysler and GM. It's poor. Ford -- look at Ford. Ford is not letting any of their dealers go. They're keeping all of them. They're not trying to get rid of any. Their stock is going up. They're out getting money from the stock market, from the private sector, because everybody knows that when Chrysler and GM are gone -- and they're going to go with the stupidity that they're going through -- whacking off the dealers? Does anybody ever do that?
And don't tell me about Starbucks. Starbucks gave up -- you know, they reduced their overhead by closing up their locations. We are no overhead to GM or Chrysler. They make a profit on us if we never sell a car. They make a profit if we never sell a car just on the fees we have to pay them.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have a message for the current CEOs of GM and Chrysler?
FITZGERALD: Do I have a message?
VAN SUSTEREN: Yes. Do you -- would you like to tell them something?
FITZGERALD: Oh, I could tell them a lot. I got a whole stack of things I could tell them.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you want to tell them?
FITZGERALD: I think you're very misguided. I'd help you if I could, but you don't listen to me. So I guess I can't help you. But your big problem is you can't count. We have 13,000 dealers and you want to knock off 3,600 of those. That means there'll be more import locations than domestic locations. Now, you know, with two out of three cars on the road is a domestic car, and you're not reaching out to those people? If you're going to rise again, there's only one way. You have to get some of those 150 million people driving your products to drive new ones. I don't think you're going to be very successful with Honda and Toyota customers, so you need to take care of that 150 million.
You need to give them more service, not less. You need to give them more attention, not less. You need to forget all about your corporate ads with your image and all that foolishness and reach out to those customers and say, Look, we've had a rough patch, but we're here for you. We're going to look out for you. We're going to do everything we can to make your experience with the car you have good, and we got great stuff coming.
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