Roddy Rodgers, owner of Rodgers Cadillac (Kingston Pike, Knoxville) and Airport Cadillac on Alcoa Highway, told his employees this afternoon that both of his Cadillac dealerships will cease their affiliation with General Motors within the next 60 days. The Rodgers family has operated their business, which started as a bicycle shop, since 1899. Rodgers Cadillac dealership has been in business for the past 73 years.
Tom Hodge, who owns Saturn of Knoxville and whose family owns the Twin City Automotive Group, said that he will take over the Cadillac brand in Knoxville. He will open Cadillac of Knoxville in the current Saturn of Knoxville location, 10005 Parkside Drive. Hodge told Blount Today that transformation of Saturn into Cadillac of Knoxville will happen simultaneously with the Rodgers closing.
"We are going to start transforming Saturn of Knoxville into Cadillac of Knoxville in the next 60 days simultaneously. As (Rodgers) is winding down his operation, Saturn of Knoxville will be transforming into Cadillac of Knoxville," Hodge said.
Hodge said Rodgers and he have a 60-day window for this transformation to occur. “It’s a buy-sell situation. We wanted to make it a positive for him,” Hodge said. “(The Rodgers family) has been in business 80 to 90 years, so we want to make it a smooth transformation.”
Hodge said Parkside Drive was an attractive place for him to locate the Cadillac dealership. “Saturn was going away, so it gives us the opportunity to have a General Motors premium brand on Parkside Drive,” he said.
Hodge said he wants to exceed customers expectations on Parkside Drive. “We want to continue to provide as good as or better service than the Knoxville market is accustomed to having.”
As for the Alcoa location, Rodgers said, "We have been in Alcoa since 1986 and, although our affiliation with General Motors will disappear in 60 days, our intention is to try and keep that facility open one way or another. We have several options, and we will weigh those options over the next 60 days and try to choose the best one."
Rodgers said negotiations with GM to keep the dealerships did not bear fruit.
"We tried negotiating many different things with General Motors, and everything we did failed," said Rodgers. "The wind-down agreement with them is confidential so I can not discuss that."
When asked if a Cadillac dealership was likely to continue on the Airport Motor Mile, Rodgers said he doubted it.
"I will tell you that in our discussions with General Motors, it appears to be their intention that Blount County will not have a Cadillac dealership, that the area will be serviced out of Knoxville," Rodger said.
Hodge said there are no plans to re-open the Cadillac dealership on Alcoa Highway. “No, there not be a Cadillac representation on the Motor Mile,” Hodge said.
In May 2009, General Motors (GM) announced that as part of its bankruptcy proceedings, it would eliminate a large percentage of its dealer network.
“Our employees and our customers are family to us,” Rodgers said. “This is something we would have never anticipated, and something we never wanted to happen. Unfortunately, this is something taking place in cities all over the country right now as the auto industry goes through a transition.
“We are doing – and will continue to do – everything we can to ease our customers and our employee family through this transition," Rodgers said. "This has been a frustrating and sad time for us, and we are completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and loyalty from our thousands of customers and our family of employees.”
Employees of both Rodgers Cadillac and Airport Cadillac were told today that severance packages have been established for all employees, unused vacation and sick days would be paid, and that letters of recommendation would be available to every worker.
Rodgers Cadillac and Airport Cadillac dealerships, which operate as independent entities, employ 45 workers and 25 workers respectively.