Gary Gerard, Times-Union General Manager

Warsaw Nissan owner Steve Ladwig concedes he was a victim of the economic slowdown.

"Our business closing is purely based on the economy," he said today, adding that people's anxiety about the future and their reluctance to make long-term purchases stalled car buying to the point where he couldn't keep the dealership open.

Ladwig bought the existing Max Capel Motors on Winona Avenue in March 2001.

After that, business was booming.

"In actual fact, over the last seven years, we more than quadrupled the number of Nissans in operation in the Kosciusko County area," Ladwig said. "Because of that, it was then necessary to build a facility to accommodate our growing group of customers."

Warsaw Nissan's new dealership on Ind. 15 North was open for business in August 2007.

"Business was improving well through August of this year," he said, "but September saw an immediate and drastic sales slump that exists today."

Debt from opening the new dealership wasn't the problem.

"Debt was up some, but not so significantly to impair the business. Sales were up more. Sales revenue increases were greater than our debt increase" prior to the sales slump, Ladwig said.

"People ask if we had stayed at the old location, would we have had the same difficulty? Well, yes. If you're not selling cars, you can't generate revenue," he said.

As for the future, Ladwig said the fate of the dealership is in Nissan's hands. While he is unsure what will happen, he believes with the modern facility located here, Nissan would try to find someone to operate it. Warsaw Nissan's inventory was sent back to Nissan.

Ladwig said he sought help from a local bank, but the bank declined.

"AIG can get a bailout, Goldman Sachs can get a bailout. In the bigger picture, the bailouts have helped the big guys in New York. But so far, that has not filtered down to Main Street America."

He said small businesses like his don't have the same level of access to credit to help maintain their businesses through tough times like the current downturn in auto sales.