Local News

January 8, 2009

SPECIAL REPORT: Ailing car industry leaves family in serious condition


This is the fifth in a series of articles about how local people are coping with tougher economic times.

Part IV: Art of diversification

Part III: Moriah couple braces for worst

Part II: From comfort to crisis

Part I: Economic hardship answered with simplicity

Tomorrow: College costs hard to handle.

ELIZABETHTOWN — Richard Plank wasn't prepared to get laid off from Adirondack Chevy in Elizabethtown.

"I didn't think I would be first. The worst part is, it happened in the cold weather, when there's not much work to be found."

He was one of four employees let go at the two Adirondack Auto facilities.

Richard had worked as a re-conditioner to get vehicles — both new and previously owned — ready for sale. He also installed accessories, such as truck bed liners. At times, Richard would drive to dealers in New York City and other places to swap cars.

"I don't hold it against anybody," Richard said about his former employer. "This is something that could happen to anybody. I have no bitterness against Adirondack Auto.

"What shocks me the most is how fast it (the downturn in sales) hit up in this area. I thought it would be more in the City."

He does feel the American car companies are somewhat to blame for sales decreases, especially when they promoted vehicles like the Hummer.

"They should have made changes to more fuel-efficient cars seven years ago."

His loss of a job will mean lots of small changes for Richard; his wife, Donna; and their children.

"With our budget, we have to tighten up a lot," Richard said.

The Planks have sealed their house against drafts and are keeping the temperature lower to cut down on fuel consumption.

"I'll tell the kids to put on a coat or sweater," Richard said. "The money just isn't there. It will be tight this winter."

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