Rashid tried to make a go of it with just the Suzuki dealership but it didn't work. Wally Thornhill picked up the franchise and added it to his portfolio of auto brands in Chapmanville.
Eventually Rashid picked up another Suzuki franchise - the one now known as Charleston Suzuki. Huffman was one of 12 people who went to work for Rashid at the new store.
"We've grown by leaps and bounds," Huffman said Thursday. "We were in the top 15 dealers in the nation. We plan on staying in business as a pre-owned automobile dealer and still providing parts and service to our customers.
"It's disheartening, really," he said of American Suzuki Motor's decision. "A lot of dealers just spent major money. Wally Thornhill just built a whole new facility. Beckley did, too."
Thornhill did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. Sarah Abrams of Lewis Automotive told the Beckley Register-Herald earlier this week that it is business as usual there and the Suzuki decision will have no effect on the Nissan portion of Lewis Automotive's business.
American Suzuki Motor has said it has enough cash to operate during the restructuring and that it "intends to honor any automobile buyback agreements that are currently in place with financial institutions."
The company said that once it exits bankruptcy protection, it will focus on selling Suzuki motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and marine outboard engines.
The company said it is exiting the car business because of slow sales, unfavorable foreign exchange rates and high costs because of U.S. regulatory requirements.
Lemmon said, "This has been almost a regurgitation of what we went through in 2008-2009 with the GM and Chrysler dealers.
"The idea that these business people have made sizeable investments in these dealerships and they are going to be just washed away with no regard to the personal cost and to the devastation to their employees is unthinkable," Lemmon said. "What's even worse, no one knew anything about this."
Lemmon said a Suzuki dealer called her about 8 a.m. Tuesday but didn't mention the company's announcement. "I said, 'Aren't you calling me about the Suzuki deal?' He said, 'What are you talking about?' The dealers didn't even know!
"To become a franchised auto dealer is no small feat," Lemmon said. "It takes money and a lot of investments - facilities, employees, inventories. To just out of the clear-blue sky file bankruptcy and say you'll concentrate on marine outboard engines and all-terrain vehicles! I find this so offensive, that a company can treat people like that."
Contact writer George Hohmann at busin...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.