What caused Browning Chevrolet to close? - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

What caused Browning Chevrolet to close?

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By Cory Stark - bio | email
Posted by Sarah Harlan - email

MADISONVILLE, KY (WFIE) - Browning Chevrolet closed its doors in Madisonville this week, leaving dozens of workers unemployed.

So, what caused one of the area's oldest businesses to shut down?  

On Monday, the city of Madisonville lost one of its oldest businesses, a car dealership that has been around since the 1930's.

Recent owner Bruce Browning and his family took over the dealership in 2004 but lost the battle to the national economy and mother nature.

"We got hit with the ice storm the 26 of January, and it totally shut us down for two weeks, but in all practicality it shut us down for six weeks," Browning said. 

Browning said that just two years ago the dealership peaked in sales at $40 million and had nearly 80 employees, but toward the end of 2008, car sales had plummeted to only $9 million, and when Browning turned his keys over to the bank Monday evening, 30 employees lost their jobs.

"That was the hardest part of the whole thing, you worry about your people," Browning said. 

Despite the economy and the ice storm, Browning was optimistic that his business would make it.

He said he never had an exit strategy, leaving his employees with no notice.

"If I would have known that it was going to happen, yes I wish I would have given more of a notice," Browning said. "But I still believed we'd win till the end, but in the end I simply ran out of money."

Some laid off Browning employees said they had not been fully paid.

"There is a few that are owed some, I'm going to do my best to get their money," Browning said. "They're a great bunch of people and it's a hard time for them as well as me."

"I may have less power today but I am going to do everything in my power to make sure they (the customers) are taken care of," Browning said.

The dealership's closing will have a big impact on the city. Madisonville Mayor Will Cox said Browning's paid nearly $70,000 in taxes and utility costs.

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