Schuman Carriage closing dealerships in November
By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer
Schuman Carriage, the kama'aina company that introduced the automobile to Hawai'i, will shut its doors after 111 years.
Schuman Carriage, based on Beretania Street, represents Cadillac, Hummer, Buick, GMC, Oldsmobile and Subaru at O'ahu dealerships. Richard Ambo The Honolulu Advertiser
Schuman, which represents Cadillac, Hummer, Buick, GMC, Oldsmobile and Subaru at several O'ahu dealerships, yesterday said it would close its dealerships at the end of November and lay off all its 117 employees.
Company officials would not explain the reason for the decision, which surprised some other local automobile dealers and longtime customers familiar with the firm that has sold Model T Fords, Studebakers, Pierce-Arrows and White and Federal trucks.
"It's heartbreaking," said Alice Secor, who dropped off her 2000 Buick Regal for servicing yesterday and has owned many Schuman cars. "It's very, very sad."
Ethel Furukawa of Kaimuki bought her first car, a Buick, from Schuman 30 years ago. She's bought two more Buicks since then and her loyalty to the dealer has never wavered.
"I'm Schuman," Furukawa said.
Schuman Carriage was established as a horse-drawn buggy dealership in 1893 by Gustav A. "Gus" Schuman, who came to Hawai'i from Germany in 1884 at age 16.
The company's founder became known as the "mule king" for his mule trading, and is credited with introducing the first rubber-tire buggy in Honolulu.
Over the decades as the company's showroom vehicles changed from carriages to Model T's to LaSalles to Hummers, the business passed from Gus Schuman to his son, Gustav W. "Scotty" Schuman, who passed company control to his son, Gustav E. "Dutch" Schuman.
In 1982, Mark Oshio was named company president, though Dutch Schuman maintained family control of the business as board chairman. Dutch Schuman's son, Richard Schuman, is a director and heads service operations.
Dutch Schuman had been seeking a buyer for some time, and in January asked about 30 unionized employees for concessions in connection with an effort to sell its assets.
The company yesterday would not say whether anyone is expected to acquire Schuman Carriage's assets.
Schuman Carriage is shown when it was in the business of carriages. The company was established as a horse-drawn buggy dealership in 1893 by Gustav A. "Gus" Schuman. Advertiser library photo
General Motors spokeswoman Susan Reyes in Detroit said the manufacturer had worked closely with Schuman Carriage to help it consummate a sale, but she didn't know why Schuman decided to cease operations and terminate its franchise agreement with GM.
Reyes said it was a personal decision by Dutch Schuman and was not because of any dispute with GM. "It was a good relationship with Mr. Schuman," she said.
Schuman Carriage said in a short statement that it has been proud to be a GM dealer for more than 70 years, and that it expects GM to arrange warranty service for its vehicles before Schuman Carriage closes.
GM, which doesn't operate dealerships, will seek another dealer or dealers to represent its brands in Hawai'i. "We definitely want to keep our premium brands available in Hawai'i," Reyes said.
Schuman Carriage is the state's only Cadillac and Hummer dealer. Cutter Family Auto Centers sells Buicks and GMCs, making the company a likely successor candidate to carry on Schuman's GM line. Oldsmobile is being phased out by GM.
Subaru is represented in Hawai'i by several dealers, including Schuman Carriage, which also distributes the cars to competing dealers for Subaru of America. Schuman Carriage said it will continue to act as Subaru's independent distributor.
All sales and service operations, however, are scheduled to shut down at the end of November, ending the venerable company's storied history in the vehicle retailing business.
Last year and earlier this year, Schuman Carriage sold seven of its eight NAPA auto parts stores and its NAPA Hawaiian Warehouse, which distributed parts to 36 mostly independently owned NAPA stores in Hawai'i and Samoa.
Before the NAPA sales, Schuman Carriage annual revenue was estimated at $100 million.
Advertiser staff writer Dan Nakaso contributed to this report. Reach Andrew Gomes at or 525-8065.
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