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September 10, 2013

Byford says all looks good for dealership change

Troubled Mike Terry dealerships in new hands

DUNCAN — Randy Byford said Monday he expects General Motors and Chrysler to approve an ownership change of the Mike Terry auto dealerships in Duncan and he’s already involved in operating the businesses.

Byford, owner of the Byford Buick-GMC dealership in Chickasha, said he talked with every employee at the dealerships in Duncan on Monday. A judge agreed to a sale of the troubled dealerships Friday after weeks of financial troubles and legal disputes.

“It was a very warm reception,” Byford said. “I met a lot of nice folks who live in a really good community that has a great reputation as a place to work, and we are going to make it viable. We hope to be a very good supporter of the community and try to extend our sales and services.”

Stephens County District Court Judge Joe Enos agreed to the sale, saying it was needed on an emergency basis or the dealerships likely would be forced to shut down.

The new ownership groups include Byford, David Le Norman or his Oklahoma City-based energy company — Le Norman Properties LLC — and a group of investors who used to be partners with Mike Terry.

Those former partners tried to fire Terry on July 15, saying he had mismanaged the dealerships. The legal feud led Enos to appoint a financial receiver to take over dealership operations and assets in hopes of saving the businesses.

Terry and the others have settled their legal disputes and Terry has cut ties with the dealerships.

Byford said the money transactions needed for the ownership change have been made and he expects GM and Chrysler to give their OK within 30 to 45 days.

The dealerships would then become Byford Chevrolet-Buick-GMC on U.S. Highway 81 and Byford Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram at the Duncan/Lawton Y.

Pending approval of the manufacturers, the dealerships are still under control of the court-appointed receiver, Michael Deeba. But Enos’ court order said Byford should expect to immediately be involved in a transition to take over day-to-day operations.

Byford said the transition was under way.

“We are operating the stores with our own money,” he said.

Byford has long ties to Stephens County and southwestern Oklahoma.

He attended Comanche public schools growing up, graduated from Comanche High School in 1977 and both his parents worked for Halliburton.

“Most of my family lives in Duncan so I have lots of family, lots of friends, lots of customers and supporters,” he said. “I feel like I’m coming home. I am coming home.”

Byford said he will remain owner of the Byford dealership in Grady County and plans to stay very active in the Chickasha community, and become more involved in Stephens County.

He said he has been in the car business since 1983, including sales, finances and management. He started his career with Bob Moore Cadillac in Oklahoma City.

He said his first stint as an owner was at a Lincoln Mercury dealership in Lawton, which Ford Motor Co. folded as part of a major consolidation. Byford then became owner of the GMC dealership in Chickasha.

“I’m very proud of our history and reputation and we have the greatest customers in the world,” he said.

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