Gerry Wood dealerships to close indefinitely during COVID-19 pandemic
By Natalie Anderson
SALISBURY — All three Gerry Wood automobile locations in Salisbury will close their doors on Friday to protect employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gerry Wood, the owner of Gerry Wood Honda, Gerry Wood Kia and Gerry Wood Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram on Jake Alexander Boulevard said the automobile industry is considered essential business during this time, but the decision to close the doors was a “moral and ethical obligation” to protect employees from coming into contact with COVID-19.
The locations employ between 135 and 140 people, who will all remain on payroll and receive regular checks during the closure.
On March 27, Gov. Roy Cooper declared a stay at home order, which started on Monday, that directs people to stay home unless conducting essential business like visiting a grocery store or pharmacy. Essential businesses at this time that are still operating are instructed to practice social distancing measures and restrict gatherings of more than 10 people in one space.
General Manager Brad Wood said, though it was a “gut-wrenching” decision, closure was a decision “based on what’s right” and not financial impact.
“This thing doesn’t have a face. There’s no sign that a person has it … right away,” Brad said. “There’s no amount of money worth losing an employee’s life.”
Brad said the dealerships have seen an increase in communication and sales conducted remotely via the website or over the phone due to online classifieds. He added that only service operations like maintenance and repair have slowed down, citing that manufacturers can incentivize people to buy a car during this time but not necessarily to get a car serviced.
And though Gerry Wood said the dealerships could stay open, he believes people are “leery” of coming into the dealership. Brad online communication has roughly equalled what the dealership would usually see from overall traffic.
Brad added that, though employees won’t always be working from home, it won’t be a vacation. Employees will still have meetings and conduct some business.
The Rowan County Public Health Department on Thursday confirmed there were a total of 37 positive COVID-19 cases in Rowan County with one death.
Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to remove a line about people needing to file a simple tax return.... read more