Former Skinner employees will open service center next month

Posted: Friday, January 08, 2010

Two former employees of Skinner Sales and Service plan to open a service shop to fill a void left when the Ford Lincoln Mercury dealership in Juneau abruptly closed more than a month ago.

Michael Penn/Juneau Empire
Michael Penn/Juneau Empire

Evergreen Motor Works will open next month, said co-owner Dave Wall, who is opening the business in the Mendenhall Valley with Todd Thingvall.

Wall worked for Ford for 27 years and managed service, parts and detail.

Thingvall has 18 years with the company and is a certified technician and former shop foreman.

Ford owners holding warranties and extended service agreements have been wondering how they would get their vehicles worked on when Juneau's only Ford service center closed.

Steve Davis, an F-150 owner who bought an extended warranty for it, said information from Ford Motor Company has not been forthcoming.

Davis called the company's customer service center and while the operators were "very nice," he didn't get any satisfaction, he said.

"They give you a case number and forward it someplace. The least they could do is have someone call me back," he said. "I've always bought Fords. It seems the company is just not stepping up to the plate."

The Juneau dealership was closed by owner Rob Skinner Dec. 4 with little notice to employees. His General Motors/Subaru dealership in Ketchikan closed on the same day.

Skinner reportedly moved to Idaho. Several former employees in Juneau said they have not had contact with him.

Ford Motor Company wants to work with its customers and considers Juneau an important market, Spokesman Steve Kinkade said.

"We'll absolutely follow-up with every customer to make sure they have the latest information. ... If there are customer issues, we want to address them right away," he wrote in an e-mail.

The customer service number is 800-392-3673.

By the end of the week, customers calling that number should be referred to Evergreen Motor Works for repairs, Wall said.

Meanwhile, at least one former Skinner Sales customer is up in the air about his purchase.

Mike Birkland bought a used Jeep at the dealership the day before it closed. He signed the title over on his trade-in, signed more papers for a loan, paid a document fee for the registration that was to come in the mail, and drove the vehicle away.

Since then, Birkland's not been able to get the Wrangler registered. He has no title or plates, and he thinks the paperwork is locked up inside the dealership. The loan was never processed through his bank, and he's not even sure he owns the car.

"I'm driving it," he said. "I have no choice. They took the title to my other car - they have it."

Birkland said he has been advised several times to work with the dealer.

"Well, there's nobody there," Birkland said. "I don't know if anyone is doing anything."

Kinkade said last month that a Seattle-based field team was working on accessing Skinner's property to clean up unfinished business. He also said at the time that Ford would look for a buyer for the Juneau franchise.

He did not respond this week to a question about the dealership and its future.

• Contact reporter Kim Marquis at 523-2279 or kim.marquis@juneauempire.com.



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