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Published: 8/17/2004

Local Mack Truck dealer fights to retain his 22-year franchise

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Toledo Mack Sales & Service Inc. is awaiting word on whether a state board this month will block a large-truck manufacturer s effort to remove the local dealership s franchise.

The Front Street dealership advertises nationally and is known for selling Mack trucks at low prices, its attorney said yesterday. The truck manufacturer, Mack Trucks Inc., broke its contract with Toledo Mack, as well as federal and state laws, to satisfy other dealers that complained, said Philadelphia attorney J. Manly Parks.

This is really what we think is pretty outrageous behavior, he said. David Yeager, who owns the local dealership with his wife, referred questions to his attorneys.

The legal wrangling between the Toledo dealer and the manufacturer started in July, 2002, when Toledo Mack filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, accusing the Allentown, Pa., truck maker of trying to take over the dealership s business and costing it more than $1 million.

Mack Trucks, for example, allegedly sold trucks to potential customers and competitors at lower prices and on more favorable terms than what it does to Toledo Mack, according to the lawsuit.

Mack Trucks countersued, alleging the dealership, among other actions, sold to a competing parts maker confidential information, such as what parts are needed to quickly service trucks and price lists. The manufacturer last year used the allegations as the basis for trying to terminate its franchise agreement with Toledo dealer, but an examiner for the Ohio Motor Vehicle Dealers Licensing Board recommended last month there is no good cause to end the arrangement.

The board has until Aug. 30 to act, but it rarely overturns an examiner s recommendation, an agency official said.

A spokesman for Mack Trucks declined to discuss specifics about the termination attempt or lawsuit, but did say it plans to aggressively pursue the matter.

The parties are awaiting a judge s decision on whether the case will proceed to a jury trial.

Toledo Mack has been a franchised Mack dealer since 1982 and specializes in selling heavy-duty rigs such as dump, cement, and refuse trucks. It also sells Mack truck chassis to companies that assemble them with truck bodies. A Mack chassis for a refuse truck costs $80,000 to $85,000, while one with the body attached costs about $170,000.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at:jmckinnon@theblade.comor 419-724-6087.



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