Michigan Ford Dealers Plan To Hold Open Review For Successor To Doner

The Greater Michigan Ford Dealer Association’s board of directors has formed a four-member subcommittee to begin considering agencies with automotive experience for its $10 million account, said John Borgman, chairman of the association and a Ford dealer in Grandville, Mich.
W.B. Doner & Co. resigned its Ford dealer business in order to concentrate on its newly won Mazda North American Operations account [Adweek, Nov. 10]. The decision put into review about $80-100 million in business, including dealer associations in New England, Texas, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and the areas of Michigan outside Detroit and its suburbs.
“We’re very disappointed because we’ve had such a wonderful relationship with Doner,” Borgman said. “We’ve been with them 10 years. They’ve been good; we didn’t want a divorce.”
Borgman said his group hopes to select a new agency by the end of January. One agency Michigan dealers will take a close look at is J. Walter Thompson, Detroit, which currently services 48 of the 63 Ford dealer associations and is also the Ford division’s national agency.
“We’re going to keep an open mind,” Borgman said. “We’ll come up with a list and then pare the list down and go at it that way. J. Walter Thompson has expressed interest, as have a number of other agencies.”
Any agency a Ford dealer association would select must be approved by Ford division officials, Borgman said. Several agencies currently doing Ford dealer work have been pre-approved–such shops include HMS Partners in Miami and Dailey & Associates in Los Angeles–but the dealer associations are not limited to only working with those agencies, Borgman said. Ford declined to release its full list of pre-approved shops.
“There are some that are pre-approved,” Borgman said, “but I’m sure that should you select an agency that’s not already pre-approved, assuming they were qualified to represent the business, [there would not] be a problem there.
“I’m not interested in limiting the search just to those that are pre-approved. We want the best agency that will meet our needs, regardless of who they might be,” he said.