by Sally Mitani
Mack Buick GMC is now LaFontaine Buick GMC. Former owner Mack Johnson says he had second thoughts soon after buying the former Jim Bradley dealership in 2010 and moving it to his nearby Saturn store: "I came to GM and said, 'This company is not going to work for me,'" Johnson says. "'Buick and GMC is not the right fit for me, and not the right fit for Ann Arbor.'"
If the new owners' name seems familiar, it's because Mike and Maureen LaFontaine own seven other dealerships in southeast Michigan, including the Chrysler-Dodge store in Saline and the Chevy dealership in Dexter (both in partnership with their nephew, Matt LaFontaine). Emmanuel ("Eman") Boykin is the general manager and a partner in the new Ann Arbor venture.
Customer relations director Angela Butler says they hope to bring the dealership back to the days when "every minister from here to the other side of Ypsi got his wheels from Jim Bradley," a pioneering African-American dealer who died in 2003. "We've got a shuttle service that runs every day, all day long, to make sure we can get our U-M employees back where they need to go," Butler says. "We've got employees that have come back that worked previously for Jim Bradley. We've got Saturn employees who have filtered back in." Boykin notes that Saturn owners haven't been forgotten: LaFontaine is a certified Saturn service provider.
Mack Johnson hasn't gone far: he is now in the final stages of building a MINI Cooper dealership on the old Bradley site, which is still owned by the Bradley family.
LaFontaine Buick GMC, 500 Auto Mall Dr., 769-3991. Showroom hours Mon. & Thurs. 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Tues., Wed., & Fri. 9 p.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
[Originally published in August, 2012.]
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