Friday, October 30, 2009

30 OCT 09: Jay Gets His Way

It appears there's a new heavyweight champion of car sales in Columbus -- and he has the truly Southern name of Stetzenmuller. Part of me wonders why he didn't stage an Oktoberfest sale along Whittlesey Road in the last few weeks.

Jay Stetzenmuller's Jay Auto Group has reached an agreement to take over 51-percent ownership of Rob Doll Nissan. Doll will control the other 49 percent - the sort of power-sharing agreement you'd think a hard-core Republican like Doll would oppose.

If a bankruptcy court judge approves in December, the current Rob Doll Nissan dealership on Box Road probably will close. Nissan sales would move to the site of Saturn of Columbus, which was scheduled to close next October [2 Oct]. The tongue-twister of the day at that location will be, "Souvenir Saturns will sell for a song."

I'm declaring Jay Stetzenmuller the heavyweight champion because the name of the new dealership could be "Jay Nissan." Rob Doll's name will NOT be on it - and I get the feeling the next time you hear Cissy Doll's voice, she'll be endorsing a Republican candidate for the state legislature.

The announcement of a Stetzenmuller-Doll partnership should end a rumor which spread across Columbus over the last couple of months. One man told me the buyer of Rob Doll Nissan might be one of Bill Heard's sons. But then again, this man worked at an independent car repair shop - so I trusted that rumor about as much as his advice about needing extra service.

Jay Stetzenmuller seems confident the bankruptcy judge will approve the joint ownership with Rob Doll. He told THE 5:00 p.m. news his Columbus dealerships are high in "C.S.I." In car-speak, that means the customer satisfaction index. If you want a new car from the Jay Auto Group, it certainly doesn't mean Columbus South Inc.

(If that argument fails, Jay Stetzenmuller can make an even better argument in bankruptcy court - that this agreement will be like a Nissan hybrid.)

The news reports of this agreement left me puzzled about one big detail. What will happen to the new Rob Doll Nissan building, which sits unfinished on Whitesville Road? Jay Stetzenmuller doesn't seem interested in it. So with a few modifications, the opportunity is there for Columbus's next megachurch.

The news about Nissan wasn't the only business headline in Columbus Thursday. Aflac announced it's freezing "merit raises" for all executives, until sales improve. The reason for this slump should be obvious - and Carl Edwards had better win this weekend's NASCAR race at Talladega.

But the sunniest business story Thursday was the grand opening of the new NCR plant in the Corporate Ridge Industrial Park. NCR used to be shorthand for National Cash Register. Now the initials mean "New to Columbus Real estate."

The NCR automated teller plant opened less than five months after the big announcement that the company's headquarters was moving from Ohio to suburban Atlanta. This makes the Kia construction work in West Point look so slow, it's no wonder Kia doesn't enter race cars in big events.

The NCR plant has 120 employees on the job already. Based on the TV news clips, they have to wear white coats on the job. Is this some kind of subtle message to President Obama that they support health care reform?

Not everything is complete at the NCR plant yet. Executives say about 30 more employees will be hired by the end of the year, and a "connector" will be built between two buildings at the complex - the first major development of this sort in Columbus since Warm Springs Connector.

Remember what Mike Gaymon said about economic recovery in Columbus several months ago? The Chamber of Commerce President said Columbus would come out of recession ahead of the rest of the country. Since government data Thursday indicated the U.S. recession ended between July and September, when did it happen here? When the Columbus Woodbats season opened in June?

-> Our Wednesday night poker game didn't turn out anything like we planned. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <--

E-MAIL UPDATE: Now for a comment about Wednesday's Blog Exclusive....

Just read your blog on the fireworks issue. I agree 100% and I hope they allow them. The kids deserve it and the fans, including my kids, love it. Also thanks for the link to the video.

Keep up the good work

Mitchell Holt

Thanks to his e-mail address, we can provide full disclosure and tell you he's COACH Mitchell Holt. He's an Assistant Coach with the Phenix City Central softball team -- a team which would be happy simply to see a few marching band members playing instruments at home games.

Phenix City Central is on the road tonight at Wetumpka, as the Alabama high school football regular season ends. So Monday's City Council work session apparently will be the next step in this controversy -- what I'm now calling the "Phenix Friday Football Fireworks Flap."

Phenix City's other high school football team ended a disappointing season Thursday night. Glenwood lashed Lakeside 20-13, to wind up 1-9. Maybe the Gators need to shoot off fireworks at games next season - to scare the opposition.

Let's finish this "skinny post" with a check of other Thursday news....

+ Dick McMichael's blog revealed all the Democratic candidates for Georgia Governor were in Columbus this week, for a fundraising dinner. McMichael wondered why the "mainstream media" didn't give the event much attention. Maybe they checked the ratings for Fox News Channel, and decided to drop that liberal left-wing bias.

+ Georgia School Superintendent (and Republican) Kathy Cox visited Columbus. She even taught a history class at Jordan High School. Given the fact that Cox and her husband filed bankruptcy papers earlier this year, let's be thankful she didn't teach mathematics.

+ Phenix City School Superintendent Larry DiChiara announced Alabama state bond money will be used to build a new elementary school. Countless residents who voted against a recent school sales tax had a three-word response to this - "told you so."

+ Evening newscasts returned to the Bibb Mill, as today marks one year since the disastrous fire. Property owner Brent Buck told WLTZ it could take six more months to remove all the debris from the site. Apparently the mill was too far away from the Chattahoochee River to qualify for "Help the Hooch" weekend.

+ Instant Message to anyone who may have been confused by our Monday post: I'll repeat what I told a phone caller Thursday. Power Frisbee of Georgia was a sport. It has never been connected with Georgia Power. And we used energy-efficient frisbees, which did not have to be plugged in.

SCHEDULED THIS WEEKEND: A submission from a blog reader that's so funny, we may take a day off....

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