Speculation that Royal Gate Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM of Columbia is closing are not true, general sales manager Brent Ward said last week, although there are currently no vehicles for sale on the lot.
Many vehicles were seen being towed from the auto dealership at 500 Admiral Weinel Boulevard starting last Wednesday.
Royal Gate’s sales department is temporarily closed due to a “facility issue” that required the dealership to move many vehicles off the lot, Ward told the Republic-Times, but the parts and service departments remain open.
“Parts and service were never told to go home,” Ward said.
Ward said some of the dealership’s approximately 50 employees chose to leave while the problem was being worked on. Ward said he never demanded anyone leave the dealership.
Ward could not divulge exactly what the issue was, but he initially estimated the sales department would be open again in a few days.
“I believe everything is worked out,” he said Thursday. “And in the next few days, we should be back by 100 percent.”
He also addressed rumors swirling about the sales department closing.
“It’s not a repossession,” Ward said. “It’s not anything with Chrysler.”
Ward estimated Thursday that about 30 percent of the Columbia dealership’s vehicles remained on the lot.
“Our owner is working on things right now to fix the problem and it’s looking positive for us,” he added at that time.
By Sunday, however, nearly the entire lot was empty.
On Monday, Ward said the service and parts departments are still open, which a call to the dealership confirmed.
Ward said then that he was now not sure when the dealership would be fully open again.
“We’re just still working on getting the issue fixed,” he said.
A Royal Gate employee who did not wish to be identified told the Republic-Times last week that new vehicles, known as a floor plan, owned by the bank, NextGear Capital, were towed away. This employee said the hope was that JW Clemens, owner of the property in Columbia and Ellisville, Mo., would take over, arrange for a new floor plan and reopen the sales department.
Columbia police said the action taking place at Royal Gate was not a police matter and that it was a business issue.
There were multiple reports last week of vehicles also being towed from the lot at Royal Gate’s dealership in Ellisville, Mo.