Keystone Ford, a prominent dealership in the Latino district of southeast Los Angeles, ceased operations on Dec. 31 after a 39-year run that ended in declining sales and increasing losses.
Owner Norman Stutzke, 75, says he accepted a “closing offer” from Ford Motor Co. after unsuccessfully trying to sell the Norwalk, CA dealership.
About 400 Ford dealerships in the U.S. were closed in 2006 and 2007 to reduce dealership numbers that now stand at about 4,000. Keystone was surrounded by eight Ford stores in a 10-mile radius.
Stutzke, who once worked for Ford Motor, says Keystone sold about 3,000 new and used vehicles a year at its peak in the late 1990s. The dealership had 160 employees then, falling to 100 at the end.
Stutzke says his building was updated 10 years ago and had participated in several factory programs, including an initiative to open offsite service centers handling all makes.
“We invested about $4.5 million in a service center up the street,” he says. “But they dropped the idea and we were left out in the cold.”