NOVI, MI – Sam Slaughter, president of Sellers Buick-GMC in Farmington Hills, MI, says General Motors’ axing of the Pontiac brand cost his dealership 60% of its new-vehicle business.

But the Buick brand’s redone Regal and all-new Verano models should help regain lost ground, he says.

“And we’re having a smooth transmission from GMAC to Ally,” Slaughter says of the reconstituted auto-finance firm. “But many customers are turning away from leasing after being burned a few years ago.”

He and two fellow metro Detroit dealers speak of recent business challenges, including franchise and brand losses, at an annual conference of the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants.

Jeffrey Tamaroff says that because of Chrysler’s post-bankruptcy reorganization, the dealership group established in 1969 by his father Marvin lost its Dodge franchise in Southfield, MI. That was shortly after his building a new Dodge showroom. GM, thinning its dealership ranks, terminated Tamaroff’s Buick franchise.

Now the father and son at different metro Detroit locations represent only Asian brands: Honda, Nissan Acura and recently added Kia.

Robert Shuman, owner of a Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep dealership in Walled Lake, MI, says one result of the Chrysler bankruptcy and Chrysler Financial implosion was a temporary collapse of leasing of Chrysler brands.

He voices hope Chrysler’s new captive lender, TD Auto Finance, will open more leasing windows as the auto maker introduces new products.

The three dealers unite in declaring they are picking up slack by increasing their used-car, service and parts businesses.

Shuman says metro Detroit still “packs the punch” as the home of the three domestic auto makers, making it a good market to sell cars.

“This is where Detroiters are born with octane in their blood, and where GM, Ford, Chrysler and the United Auto Workers are alive and well despite a century of depressions, recessions, wars, foreign-car invasions and now even bankruptcies,” he says.

In metro Detroit, “being a domestic-car dealer is like a badge of honor,” says Tamaroff, who no longer wears that medal.