Pontiac driving into sunset

Monday, April 27, 2009 11:59 AM
Last updated 4:49 PM
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Will Schafer is sad to see Pontiac go.

This morning, GM announced that it will phase out the Pontiac brand by the end of 2010.

The president of Master Pontiac Buick GMC in Martinez said that his family has sold Pontiac vehicles for 72 years.

“We were a stand-alone Pontiac dealer for 50 years. Pontiac is all my family has ever known,” Mr. Schafer said.

“We’re not shocked. It is an emotional decision for us. My grandfather and my great uncle started this company in 1934, and three years later they got the Pontiac franchise,” he said.

Despite the phasing out of Pontiac, Mr. Schafer said that it won’t have much impact on his business. The dealership started selling GMCs in 1987 and Buicks in 1994.

Over the last few years, the Pontiac brand has “become less and less a percentage of the business,” he said.

“Financially, the elimination of the Pontiac brand isn’t going to mean a whole lot to our company. Buick and GMC are the stronger franchises, especially here in town with the demographics that we’ve got here,” Mr. Schafer said.

“We have a little bit older demographic and that plays well with the Buick. GMC has been very successful for us. The two stronger franchises are going forward,” he said.

Mr. Schafer said that Master Pontiac Buick GMC won’t have to lay off employees. Also, customers don’t have to worry about the fate of the dealership.

He said that Pontiac was the “third best selling franchise that General Motors has and sold more cars than Cadillac.”

When GM began its restructuring plan in February, the company set a goal to focus on four core brands: GMC, Buick, Cadillac and Chevrolet. Initially, Pontiac was going to continue on as a niche brand, but as they moved forward, they “weren’t able to come up with a marketing plan for a smaller Pontiac,” he explained.

However, the Pontiac will always have sentimental value.

“It’s meant a lot to us. Pontiac has been our jobs for almost 75, and it’s sad to see Pontiac go,” Mr. Schafer said.

Reach LaTina Emerson at (706) 823-3227

or latina.emerson@augustachronicle.com.

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