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FORD MINORITY DEALERSHIP PROGRAM IN SHAMBLES

 FORD MINORITY DEALERSHIP PROGRAM IN SHAMBLES
 NASHVILLE, Tenn., Sept. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- The following statement


was issued today by Grant's Marketing Consultants (a marketing-public relations firm) in behalf of Anthony Kennedy and Robert Frensley of Nashville:
 Anthony Kennedy is more than another statistic. Much more. He had worked for 20 years for the Ford Motor Company. He had operated two successful dealerships in Frankfort and Fort Knox, Ky. A model employee, model dealer and a model citizen. He was on the fast track to becoming one of America's most successful entrepreneurs in the automobile industry.
 Anthony Kennedy proved to himself that the fact that he was black would not be a hindrance in the competitive automobile retail business. He exercised caution and frugality in all his financial transactions. His conservative approach to business was to secure for himself and his family a piece of the rock.
 Anthony Kennedy had it made. Or so he thought. One bad decision would lead him to financial ruin. This one mistake in judgment would leave him without control of the two dealers that he had owned and successfully operated.
 In August of 1990, Anthony Kennedy -- or Tony as his family, friends and customers call him -- would join a list of some 255 Black Americans who were all casualties in Ford's Minority Dealership Program.
 Casualties? That is a pretty strong word. Strong and an accurate description of the financial demise that faced nearly all of the 255 black entrepreneurs who invested their time, energies, money and their futures to be a part of Ford's Minority Dealership Program.
 Before the microcosm of Tony's dilemma can be clearly understood, the macrocosm of the Ford's Minority Dealership Program needs to be explained -- from its inception. Reacting to political pressure, Ford Motor Company agreed in 1984 (without regard to its budget constraints or profitability) to have 320 effective and profitable black dealers by year end 1989. After reaching a peak of 277 black-owned dealerships, Ford's commitment seemed to drop precipitously. By Feb. 1, 1991, the number had dropped to 245. Today, only 185 black dealers are left. Of the 185, 49 are not bonafide because blacks do not own them.
 NAMAD -- National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers -- reports that 5.4 percent of total Ford dealerships are black-owned. However, adjusting the figures to reflect the lack of equity that a significant number of black dealers hold in "their" dealerships, the percentage of black-owned dealerships clearly would be less than 5 percent.
 According to the records kept at the office of the Black Ford Lincoln Mercury Dealerships Association (BFLMDA), of the 185 black-- owned Ford dealerships, aggregate profit-to-date (Jan. 1, 1992 - July 31, 1992) is only $4.9 million. Sixty-two of these dealerships represent $4.7 million. That means in simple arithmetic that the remaining 123 dealers combined had a year-to-date profit of less than $1,000,000. BFLMDA also reports that 48 percent of the remaining 185 black-owned dealers are presently in a losing predicament.
 Like Tony Kennedy, many African-American entrepreneurs were promised technical and financial assistance from Ford Motor Company. The excerpt below is taken from a letter to the Congressional Black Caucus by BFLMDA president, L.E. Henderson:
 " ... The Ford Black Dealer Program has been pretentiously paraded within the Black Community across the world as an overwhelming success when in fact it is not."
 A number of civil and economic rights leaders in the black Community are beginning to question the sincerity of Ford's Minority Dealership Program. Below is a partial listing of their comments:
 "The issue is fair share. From what I can gleam from the large number of failures in Ford's Minority Dealership Program, the African- American community is not receiving its fair share of opportunities in this major corporation that is enriched by the black community to the tune of billions of dollars annually."
 Fred Rasheed
 NAACP's Fair Share Program
 "The issue is economic justice. Looking at the plight of these black dealers, it is clear that we have a serious miscarriage of justice."
 The Rev. Joseph Lowery
 President, SCLC
 "I am disturbed by the magnitude of the failures of these black dealerships in Ford's program. The NAACP will closely watch the hearings that are being organized by two members of the Congressional Black Caucus -- Congressman John Conyers and Congresswoman Barbara Rose-Collins."
 Dr. William Gibson
 Chairman, NAACP
 "I met with the Ford Dealer Candidates Committee in June of 1991 to discuss solutions to the problems they faced at that time. Unfortunately, several of the same concerns expressed in 1991 returned to our 1992 meeting unresolved and in some cases unaddressed."
 The Rev. Henry M. Williamson, Sr.
 National President, P.U.S.H.
 "There seems to be a consensus among the black candidates for Ford's Minority Dealership program that it is a deception on the part of Ford Motor. All over the country, many of Ford's district managers have not fervently supported the program."
 Wayne Patterson
 Coordinator of the Ford Dealer's
 Candidate Committee
 "The program needs the hands-on attention of the brains at Ford Motor Company. Many of the underlings charged with implementation of the program were never committed to its success."
 Robert Hill
 Executive Director, BFLMDA
 "I was misled by Ford. One misrepresentation after another. I relied on Ford's representatives to my detriment."
 Tony Kennedy
 Former Dealer, Hickory Hollow Ford
 -0- 9/28/92
 /CONTACT: Michael A. Grant of Grant's Marketing Consultants, 615-726-1934, representing Anthony Kennedy and Robert Frensley/ CO: Ford Motor Company; Ford Minority Dealership Program ST: Tennessee, Kentucky IN: AUT SU:


CM -- CH003 -- 3869 09/28/92 09:59 EDT
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Date:Sep 28, 1992
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