Advantage Rent-A-Car closes doors

Advantage Rent-A-Car closed its doors on the Western Slope, and possibly in a majority of its markets nationwide, as of Thursday night.

Three employees at the Advantage counter at the Grand Junction Regional Airport declined to comment and said an advisory would be released later.

“They’ve closed everything on the Western Slope, in Colorado, and a few other ones,” said Rex Tippetts, general manager of the airport. “They shut them down last night. I had no warning.”

Officials at Advantage deferred questions to its parent company, Denny Hecker
Automotive Group, the Twin Cities-based auto dealer. Calls and e-mails seeking comment from the company were not returned Friday.

Billionaire Denny Hecker recently filed suit against Chrysler Financing loan companies alleging the company “suddenly and without notice” put his credit lines on hold in mid-October, according to the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal. General Motors filed a lawsuit against Hecker about franchising issues, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. 

Hecker closed six dealerships and sold three more two weeks ago, several Minneapolis television stations reported.

National/Alamo car rental at Grand Junction Regional Airport was helping arriving customers who were looking for their reservations Friday at Advantage.

David Ward, who owns Express Rent-A-Car on 587 N. Commercial Drive in Grand Junction, said several large rental car companies became the victim of Internet price wars.

“The big companies can get software that can check prices every 30 seconds,” he said.

“They’ll drop their prices by a dollar to get a customer. I’ve had people call up and say they want a car for $18 a day. I’m not interested in price wars. You can’t make money sending a car out for $18 a day. If you drop your price, eventually you’ll be sending them out the door for less than they cost to own or lease, and you can’t pay your bills. It’s a cash-flow game.”

Ward also said gas prices put a hold on people traveling on the Western Slope this year, and the cost of rental space at the airport might have been too much for the company.

“A couple of years ago, a bunch of companies flooded in there after they expanded, and they figured out they couldn’t make enough money, enough business,” he said.

Ward, who also owns Mesa Motors Inc., a car dealer in Delta, said financing is good on the rental side, but has gone south on his retail car lot.


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