Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Profiles in Success: Knapp Chevrolet

How might your business survive if the Government were to dictate the terms? Some would argue we’re already at that point…but not long ago, a Houston-based auto dealer was facing the prospect of laying off workers and closing its doors because of government intervention in its industry.

Knapp Chevrolet is a family-owned and operated business that has operated at the corner of Houston and Washington Avenues since December, 1940. December 6th, to be exact. Third-generation owner Bobby Knapp recalls how the euphoria of their new showroom opening literally evaporated overnight when America was pulled into WW-2 by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the next day. Not good for sales?

Knapp Chevrolet's first customer
The Knapp’s hunkered down, and worked even more diligently to provide service to Houston Chevrolet owners thru the war years. The Dealership blossomed.

Integrity and honesty were the keystones of the Knapp family’s business plan, underpinned by a strong work ethic and an unwavering faith. Houstonian's flocked to the dealership.

In 2009, General Motors filed for bankruptcy, and in the reorganization process, identified dealerships across the country that would be dropped from the GM franchise. Knapp Chevrolet  was on the list for de-listing. 

At stake was not just the livelihood of the Knapp family of over 80 mechanics, sales, and clerical staff in Houston, but other smaller dealerships across the country that were being similarly dropped by GM’s “rationalization” plan. The sad irony was GM’s decision to drop the Knapp dealership came after the closure of two Chevrolet “super-store” dealerships in the area, and would further diminish GM’s market share in the Houston area.
Mr. Knapp went to Washington to address Congress. 

The combination of Bobby Knapp’s powerful, reasoned testimony, and an outpouring of grass-roots support swayed GM’s decision makers, and Knapp Chevrolet was “re-rewarded” its franchise.

Integrity and honesty have been the keystones of Knapp’s  business philosophy. 
Persistence pays, as well, as it turns out. And with a fourth-generation Knapp now working his way up through the business, future generations of Chevrolet owners will also be able to rely on the Knapp brand.

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