Dennis Gazarek was the guest speaker at the last meeting of the Probus Pickering Club.
He is the Canadian author of “Whacked,” his critical examination of General Motors and its ‘terminal’ operation in Canada.
Dennis spent almost his entire adult working life as an employee of General Motors, many years as a salesman in his brother’s dealership in Pickering, Ontario. His examination of the corporation is not supportive. Far from it, he is very critical of its entire Canadian operation implying that it is no great leap to compare GM with a world renowned criminal organization and how it deals with difficult employees and challenging situations. Dennis did not accuse GM of any outright criminal activity in his dark sketch of the association but he also didn’t steer far away from hinting that many of its operating procedures and methods in maintaining profitability were unethical if not illegal. But legal evaluations, assessments and judgements against GM are still pending even today.
Dennis related a number of anecdotes which painted GM as an uncaring, insensitive, heavy handed business entity. He suggests it cared nothing about employee allegiance, staff loyalty or dedication. If the profit column was not in the black, significantly, you got ‘whacked,’ ‘canned,’ fired or bought out for pennies on the dollar.
He described how GM declared bankruptcy in 2009 and the subsequent fall out meant that many dealers collapsed along with the parent organization. When these dealerships closed, thousands of employees, investors and customers were left high and dry, out in the cold. It wasn’t an overnight process but more of a slow death while litigants sought restitution through the courts in an attempt to resuscitate the terminally ill car producer. Oldsmobile was driven off into the sunset, so too was Pontiac, then the Saturn line up. If you owned one of these cars, too bad. It was commercially worthless and GM did not care.
Dennis then talked about how the terminally ill car manufacturer found a voodoo saviour in the Canadian and American governments who made life saving loans to their respective national GM auto producer. Today, General Motors has been resurrected like the mythological Phoenix rising to heights comparable to the lofty ones of the past. Incredible!
Dennis Gazarek’s brother was trampled by the GM Phoenix, losing his dealership, going bankrupt and having to rebuild his life economically from scratch. Dennis may have been lucky. He lost his job. He lost his investments. But he still has his health and his supportive family. In a way, he too rose like the proverbial Phoenix. Today he is a successful author with one work already published and a second nearing completion.
His talk was enlightening and informative and likely convinced many of the attending Probus members to have second thoughts about entering a GM dealership again. But, as Dennis himself said, pricing and warranty promises are attractive lures and they have brought many purchasers back to GM’s doors. The more things change, the more they stay the same!
Chuck Simmons expresses the appreciation of Probus Pickering to Dennis Gazarek.