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
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
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
Advertiser staff writer Dan Nakaso contributed to this report. Reach
Andrew Gomes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 525-8065.