The worst car sales in 26 years spell challenges and opportunities for small business


The news on the automotive business front is dismal. The latest numbers indicate that in January car sales tumble more than expected. In fact, car sales last month were the worst in 26 years.

Just about a year go Paul Shippey purchased Automotive Media Solutions in Denver and overnight Shippey went from reviewing cars for a living to managing a fleet of press cars. The small company provides new car models to journalist for one week stints so that reporters can review and evaluate the vehicles.

"In the last year the business model I bought has been turned on its head," Shippey said.

His small company, like so many others that depend on the automotive industry, has had to adapt to shrinking budgets, consolidation, and upheaval in a well established business that was a reliable source of revenue for dozens of years.

Just a few months ago Automotive Media Solutions had almost eighty cars in its fleet that services the needs of print, electronic, and television journalist in five states in the Rocky Mountain Region.

"The current situation has definitely hurt us," Shippey said. The car manufactures have cut their marketing budgets and forced us to lower our prices to compete. We definitely get less vehicles, " he added.

Today that number of cars in the companies fleet is closer to fifty, and like so many other businesses Automotive Media Solution has had to cut back on staff to stay competitive. This means that fewer employees have to do more work in order for the company to stay competitive.

But Shippey also sees new opportunities in this time of turmoil. He's focusing on expanding his business into new adjoining services for his company such as large fleet management for clients outside of the automotive media industry.

Recently his company has been working with a client that is considering using Automotive Media Solutions fleet management skills for its car needs instead of paying higher fees to rental car companies for essentially the same service.

Shippey also went on to say that he's part of a new potentially profitable partnerships with other companies that provide a similar service in other markets across the country. This new partnership gives him and his partners the ability to provide a new national level of service to the large car companies.

According to Shippey currently Automotive Media Solutions controls about eighty percent of the local market by providing a full range of media service to automobile manufactures such as organizing new car launches and press events for the media.

Shippey hopes to grow that percentage to 95 percent because of the opportunities that have arisen because of the volatility of the current economy.