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Phelps Family Ford financially restructuring

Most employees were sent home and some vehicles were being moved from the lot earlier this week at Phelps Family Ford in Perham.

Details were not readily available.

The service shop was closed, with lights out, and owner Kevin Phelps was in meetings much of the day.

According to his brother, Alan Phelps, financial restructuring efforts were underway.

United Community Bank President Charlie Cavanagh was at the lot Tuesday morning, along with bank staff, removing some vehicles from the lot.

Cavanagh declined to comment on the situation.

When this edition went to press Wednesday morning, owner Kevin Phelps also declined to comment in any detail, but is expected to be able to discuss the matter publicly later in the week.

The business was evidently open on a limited basis Wednesday morning, as phone lines were open and being answered. The service manager was on hand to answer questions.

"We're working on a restructuring, but I'm not prepared to make any comments at this time," said Phelps.

The company has about 22 employees, many of whom were reportedly cleaning out their desks Tuesday morning.

Phelps purchased the dealership from the Schmitz family in the spring of 2005.

At that time, Schmitz Ford was the fourth oldest family-owned Ford dealership in the state--established in 1920. Several of the Schmitz family members continued to work for Phelps after he bought the dealership.

Greg Schmitz also declined to comment on the closing of the dealership. However, he confirmed that the Schmitz family no longer had a financial stake in the dealership, as the family had sold all its interest to Phelps three years ago.

Kevin Phelps came to Perham from Langdon, North Dakota. Like the Schmitz family, Phelps grew up in the auto business. His father owned dealerships in North Dakota. Kevin worked at Rydell Chevrolet in Grand Forks, and later worked in the cities in the early 1990's when General Motors rolled out its new Saturn line of autos.

Phelps has been aggressive in marketing in the community, and has been a high profile participant in sponsoring various community events and fundraisers for Perham-Dent schools and other programs.

Phelps has been instrumental in the current fundraiser for school sports and activities. Phelps obtained the 2008, yellow and black colored, GT Conversion mustang Convertible for the drawing.