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Hurricane Ian batters Florida dealers forcing many to close temporarily

Auto dealerships across the state of Florida were forced to close their doors due to Hurricane Ian. Dealerships from Tampa across to the state’s Atlantic Coast closed up shop on Wednesday and Thursday in preparation for the storm’s landfall and potentially catastrophic storm surge and flooding.

In an email, Evelyn Cardenas, Central Florida Auto Dealers Association CEO, wrote, “Most, if not all, of my dealers have closed Wednesday and Thursday. They have been working hard over the past two days to prepare to ensure the safety of their staff and stores.”

The Category 4 hurricane made landfall near Fort Myers, Florida, around 3:05 p.m. EDT. According to the Weather Channel, the storm had maximum sustained winds of around 150 mph. By early Thursday, Hurricane Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm and continued pushing through the state’s central and northern regions.

More than 2.5 million people in Florida were left without power, and the National Weather Service said the storm was causing” catastrophic storm surge, winds, and flooding.”

The Maus Family Auto Group, Asbury Automotive Group Inc., Penske Automotive Group, Kisselback Ford, and the Alan Jay Automotive Network all reported closing some or all of their locations in preparation for the storm.

Dealers weren’t the only ones closing the doors ahead of Hurricane Ian. Vendor companies and product suppliers also reported closing offices, including JM&A Group, a Southeast Florida-based product provider for F&I.

According to Dealer Risk Services President Steve Gibson, Florida dealerships “have a certain level of skin in the game” with hurricanes. However, Gibson said dealerships in the state have disaster preparedness plans in place and review them at the start of the hurricane season. This includes finding ways to protect inventory and property and minimize damage by moving vehicles inside whenever possible.

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