Archive for 'Norcross, Georgia'

Saab History Interviews Lisa Aloisio, Formerly Lisa Uhl of Saab Cars USA 1996-2001

Posted on 22. Mar, 2009 by .

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Photo Credits: Saab Cars USA & Lisa Aloisio

I have recently had a great dialogue with Lisa Aloisio, formerly Lisa Uhl of Saab Cars USA where she worked as PR coordinator in charge of managing the annual Saab Owners Conventions from 1996 until 2001.

This interview involved me providing a summary of her work fully edited and reviewed by Lisa, and ultimately submitted back to me at Saab History for us to enjoy here below.

A thank you to Lisa for her input and her time working with Saab Cars USA all of these years, we sincerely appreciate it!

3/5/2009

Phone Interview with Lisa Aloisio

Lisa Aloisio worked as PR Coordinator for SCUSA from the March of 1997 until early 2000 and worked in Norcross, Georgia. She was hired by then Director of Corporate Communications, Elke Martin. Most of Lisa’s tenure was under the Joel Manby Era, but she also had short but memorable experiences with presidents Jim Crumlish and Dan Chasins.

I was hired as a newbie to PR and I had the great fortune of working alongside some of the “great ones”. Elke Martin, of course, was the torque that drove our entire department. If you look up “work ethic” in the dictionary, I’m sure Elke’s picture is there. Cool things happened whenever Elke was involved. And she showed me how much I could accomplish with good ideas and hard work! I inherited the PR Coordinator position from the beloved Marie Prezioso one of the original SCUSA employees from Connecticut. I loved working with and learned a great deal from Dan Prescott, the prolific and insightful writer behind all the wonderful Saab product information and news publications. Colin Price, and later Kevin Smith, were both wise and forgiving managers, letting me take on new responsibilities and learn from my most famous blunders. (the portachere at the resort in DelMar, CA will never be the same) I also worked with Steve Janisse and Eric Geers, who were simultaneously smart and fun to be around. (a lethal combo!) Also, had a brief stint with Barbie Whittemore, one of Saab’s first webmasters.

During her time with Saab Cars USA, she was responsible for spending a significant amount of time every year on probably one of the most exciting jobs on the planet, managing the annual Saab Owners Conventions!

She enjoyed coordinating with the clubs on each engagement beginning with the Kirkwood, California convention in ’96, the 50th Anniversary Celebration in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire in ’97, the Hilton Head convention in ’98 to her final event, the “Peak Nine Experience” in Keystone, Colorado in ’99.

Each year, she worked alongside 6-8 enthusiast club planners in making each event successful. She saw an opportunity to build a stronger connection to the clubs because she recalls when she came on board, “the previous conventions did not have a consistent stream of involvement from Saab Cars USA, and I was given the opportunity from SCUSA management to try to change that.”

Change is exactly what happened, in the best possible way. The Saab Owners Conventions from the 1996 until 1999 were some of the best and most notable conventions in the history of Saab Owners Conventions in the United States. Of course, Lisa is adamant she deserves little of the credit and that her colleagues within the clubs spent numerous hours volunteering their time and talents as well. (Shout out to Cathleen, Dan, Ian, Larry, Jerry, Tom, Bruce, etc.)

While it was a fun role, it was also challenging says Aloisio, “There were people who felt putting scarce marketing dollars toward hosting events for the loyal Saab enthusiast crowd was a bit like preaching to the choir.” But she says Joel Manby, coming from a successful stint at Saturn, saw the value of building a bridge between Saab’s heritage-rich enthusiasts and its new customers. “While I was at Saab, I had the great privilege to observe several Saab executives make a great effort to leverage Saab’s incredible past as a springboard to attract new buyers to the brand.”

Although admittedly not an advertising expert nor involved in advertising decision-making at SCUSA, she observed the development of both the “Find Your Own Road” advertising campaign and the ‘Saab Vs. campaign. “I appreciated the tremendous creativity and intelligence of both those campaigns, but at the time I recall thinking neither would hit the gut or the heart of the Saab die-hards who were the life-blood of the brand. I remember seeing a story board from the Martin Agency’s pitch for the Saab account – it was the photo of a Viggen fighter jet in flight carrying a bumper sticker that read “My other Saab is a car – and I said now that’s more like it!”

Now, with a few more years of marketing experience at various companies under her belt, she still feels for advertising to work, it can’t be all cerebral, it has to solicit an emotional reaction especially when it comes to automotive purchases.

Throughout her time with Saab Cars USA, she noticed Saab marketers struggled, particularly in the United States market, where the brand seemed to be trying to be “everything to everyone”. “There was an identity crisis that stemming from an attempt to highlight Saab’s many innovations while trying to distinguish the brand’s uniqueness from the quirkiness associated with past product.” She believes that Saab finally hit the nail on the head in 2005, many years after her departure, when the “Born From Jets” campaign was initiated by Jay Spenchian, Saab USA president at the time.

In early 2001, just after Joel Manby left as President, and Dan Chasins took over, Lisa was approached by GM R Works, a new agency relationship General Motors started specifically to handle regional promotional events. A colleague of hers, who has now since passed, Ron Updyke of GM, made a recommendation about her work at Saab and she chose to take the initiative and interview with them. Her boss, Kevin Smith was heading up Corp Comm at SCUSA at that point, and Kevin encouraged her to give the new opportunity a shot.

She indicates that while it was hard to leave, she didn’t see Saab Cars USA in the spring of 2001 as a place that would be able to give her the immediate professional growth she was looking for. “The integration with GM was taking hold and no one knew exactly what was going to happen. Everyone remained optimistic but I felt it was best for me personally to take the new position with GM R Works.” Unfortunately, her former peers had to wrap up shop at SCUSA’s Norcross location in 2002 a year after her departure, as the company planned on transitioning everyone up to Detroit, Michigan when Debra Kelly-Ennis arrived. Only a handful of people made the move, while an even smaller group took up residence on behalf of Saab at GM’s Southeast Regional office in Alpharetta, GA.

There were many highlights during her career with Saab Cars USA, Inc. including reunions with clubbers after year-long planning efforts came to fruition at the Saab Owners Conventions. She felt that she was very fortunate to have these one of a kind experiences including using the legendary Saab 900 “Sensonic” car as her daily driver, courtesy of her former husband, James Uhl, who owned and showcased the car during that time.

Another little known historical point associated with Lisa and Saab. Lisa was the first person to deploy an airbag in a new Saab 9-5 in a real life crash on US soil. In early 1999, she crashed a brand new pre-production 9-5 press car with less than 100 miles on the odometer. She got several calls from Trollhattan engineers asking about the car’s safety performance. “I told them, the car sacrificed itself flawlessly, and my son and I walked away without a scratch!”

Her legacy at Saab Cars, USA was continued by Tiffany Cook, whom she still maintains a good relationship with today.

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Saab History Interviews Former Saab Cars USA PR, Dan Prescott (1994-2005)

Posted on 16. Mar, 2009 by .

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Photo Credits: Dan Prescott / SCUSA

Dan Prescott, the former Saab Cars USA PR representative that worked from 1994 until 2005 in Norcross, Georgia, has provided Saab History with a wonderful summary of his experience over the years. Prescott, now a freelance journalist, worked under the Jim Crumlish, Joel Manby, Dan Chasins, and Debra Kelly-Ennis eras of leadership while working with Saab in the United States.

An avid Saab fan prior to working with Saab Cars USA, his enthusiasm was genuine. I had the privilege of meeting him at the 2001 Boston Auto Show where Saab showcased the 1st facelift of the Saab 9-5 Sedan & Wagon models.

This writeup really shows that there were many Saab enthusiasts working as employees, that had a true interest in keeping Saab Automobile going here in the United States over the years.

A sincere thank you goes to Dan for providing this piece as well as the incredible photos today!

Dan Prescott

Aug. 1994 to June 1998
Product Information & Publications Specialist

June 1998 to May 2001
Auto Show & Literature Manager

May 2001 to Jan. 2005
West Coast PR representative

Saab History: When and why did you start working for Saab Cars USA?

Dan Prescott: While I was working as automotive editor for AAA AutoTest, the auto club’s annual book of new-car reviews, I was invited to the introduction of the 1995 Saab 900 Turbo Coupe. It’s at that event where I met Elke Martin, Saab Cars USA’s PR manager. A month or so later, I got a call from her asking if I would be interested in leaving the editorial world behind and joining the Saab PR team as a product specialist. It was a tough decision, but I have a master’s degree in journalism with a PR concentration, so it was definitely a field I was interested in. Plus, I was a big enthusiast of Saabs as fun-to-drive, well-engineered European performance cars. In fact, I was a long-time Saab fan, having test driven and written about Saabs ever since I lived in Germany in the late ‘80s writing for a car magazine targeted at U.S. military.

So I accepted and moved to Atlanta in August 1994. My job title was Product Information & Publications Specialist, responsible for interactions with media, press releases, press kits and two quarterly magazines: Saab Soundings, the owners’ magazine, and Saab Prospects, a publication for Saab dealerships. The best part of the job was that it was always changing, not only throughout the work day, but every week would bring new projects and challenges. Initially, we were a three-person team: Elke Martin, who is an amazing PR pro, Lisa Aloisio (formerly Uhl), who could effectively juggle more tasks than almost anyone I knew and myself. We launched the Saab 900 Convertible, the Saab 9000 CD sedan and then the Saab 9-3 and 9-5.
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Saab History Interviews Former Saab Cars USA President, Dan Chasins

Posted on 24. Feb, 2009 by .

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chasins Saab History Interviews Former Saab Cars USA President, Dan Chasins

Photo Credit: Saab Cars USA, Inc.

A few weeks ago, I managed to get the opportunity to interview Dan Chasins, the former President of Saab Cars, USA, Inc (2000-2002).

Today, Dan Chasins submitted the interview transcript so that I may share it with us here on Saab History. Some years back, November of 2001 to be precise, I had the pleasure meeting him for the first time at the Boston Auto Show. In 2009, much like before but over the phone, was another great time to hear about his career while the hours flew by.

A sincere thank you to Dan Chasins for his time and thoroughness in contributing this incredible interview for us here on Saab History.

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Saab History Interviews Former Saab USA President Dan Chasins

Sunday, February 15th, 2009 (1pm-4:30pm)

Saab History:
When and how did you end up working at Saab Cars, USA?

Chasins: I had an affinity for Saab prior to joining the company, starting with the ownership of a 1972 99, followed by a number of others, including a Sonett V4, 1990 900 SPG (the red one now in the SCUSA Heritage Collection) and others. I joined the company in late 1992 when I was offered the position as Director of Marketing. This came after a number of months’ discussion with Bill Kelly, Saab’s president at the time, who had taken over after Bob Sinclair. I was living in northern California at the time, and originally thought that I would be returning to the North East. I expected to be working in Orange, Connecticut, however I soon realized that the company was moving down to Norcross, Georgia. I started the job in Connecticut, but only for a few months, before a small team started up the operation in Georgia. Out of approximately 250 people who worked in Orange, Connecticut, only about 20 people both had the opportunity and made the choice to move to Norcross, Georgia. It was a wrenching experience, but the company had decided that it was needed in order to make a fresh start in the early nineties.

When I started with the company, I reported to Jan-Ã…ke Jonsson, who at that time was VP, Sales & Marketing in the U.S. Jan-Ã…ke, of course, is now the global head of Saab Automobile.

Saab History: What products did you end up having to market and how much of a challenge was it?

Chasins: The first product that I helped to launch, was the MY ’93 9000 CS in 1992 , which was the new body style for the 9000 model line. The biggest challenge in marketing this new product was that the existing owners really loved the unique look of the 900 hatchback…the car that was the iconic Saab. Up to that point, although the 9000 got high marks for its interior cabin, and for the amazing performance of the turbo version, its exterior design was viewed as somewhat generic and to many, the 9000 was not yet viewed as a pure expression of the Saab brand. With more aerodynamic styling, and other refinements, the CS evolution went on to become the most successful variant of the 9000, including the eventual introduction of the 9000 Aero.

The next major product I marketed along with my team at Saab Cars USA (SCUSA pronounced “Scuza” internally.), was the next generation MY ’94 900. This product was the first model that was jointly developed using an existing General Motors platform. The NG900 as many now referred to it, needed to be launched immediately due to pending safety legislation, environmental regulations and other innovations that Saab Automobile needed to deploy in order to be competitive. The original 900 platform had its origin in the 99, and had been in production for over 20 years in all its variations—much longer than the offerings from other European carmakers at the time.

Saab History: What advertising programs were you responsible for, why did they change, which ones did you think were most effective and which one(s) did you like the most personally?

Chasins: When I came on board, Saab’s ad agency (Angotti, Thomas, Hedge), were continuing the “We Don’t Make Compromises, We Make Saabs” campaign. While this campaign was good for the time, it began to be difficult to use with the global marketing initiatives that were just starting to be coordinated by Saab Automobile AB, and we had a push to try to address this.
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Saab History Interviews Former Saab USA President Joel Manby

Posted on 31. Dec, 2008 by .

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manby group Saab History Interviews Former Saab USA President Joel Manby

Photo Credit: Manby (L-to-R Ralph Millet, Joel Manby, Bob Sinclair)

I have recently had the privilege of interviewing Joel Manby, the former Saab USA President from June of 1996 until April of 2000.

Below is his updated and candid account of our interview, it is a great read, so take the time and enjoy!

Thank you Joel for your time and contribution, we all appreciate it!

Saab History: How Did you end up joining Saab Cars USA in June of 1996?

Manby: I worked at Saturn as a Regional Vice President and was picked to lead Saab Cars USA in order to improve the dealership distribution network by making it more focused and more profitable.

I used to co own some retail dealerships so I knew how important the car buying experience was in the customer’s final decision on what brand to buy, especially since it was the 2nd most expensive purchase a family would make after a home. I also knew that our competitors like BMW, Audi and Volvo had a much more profitable and focused dealer network. I was determined to reinvigorate the dealership network to turn around the car buying experience to one that was enthusiastic for not only the customer, but the dealership’s sales team as well. We were asking dealers to invest in exclusive dealerships and sales people so in many cases we actually removed some dealers who were not committed or dueled with poor brands in order to get other dealers to invest heavily. Our basic goal was to go from selling 25,000 Saabs through 360 poorly focused stores (average = 70/year per store) to 40,000 sold Saabs through 240 stores (a more focused and profitable average of 170/year per store). Dealers need to know they can be profitable before they will invest.

Saab History: How did this strategy work?

Manby: The units sold per dealership increased to over 150/store as did the national sales figures which topped 40,000 during my time. We had more exclusive stores than any time in recent history and had the 2nd highest sales year in Saab history to that point….so I would say it worked well. We also gained huge share in Southern California where we were almost non existent.

Saab History: Consistent advertising was never something that Saab had, what did you do to turn this around?
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Dan Chasins Saab Cars USA President Apr. 2000 – Sept. 2002

Posted on 25. Nov, 2008 by .

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dan Dan Chasins Saab Cars USA President  Apr. 2000   Sept. 2002

Photo Credit: Saab Automobile USA

Daniel B. Chasins began working with Saab Automobile in 1992, when he joined Saab Cars USA as director of marketing for three years.

Since then he worked in the capacity of vehicle line director for the Saab 9-5 and 9000 model line while working at Saab in Trollhättan, Sweden for another four.

In October of 1998, Dan Chasins was named the vice president of product programs and customer satisfaction while working in Norcross, Georgia. In that capacity, he worked in product planning, strategy, development and research, company wide dealer and customer focused activities and saw the global launch of the Saab 9-5.

In April of 2000, Dan was given the opportunity to operate as President of Saab Cars USA. Over this time he saw the launch of the 9-X & 9-3X concept cars.

Dan Chasins was replaced by Debra Kelly-Ennis in September of 2002.

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Saab USA Headquarters Opening – Norcross, Georgia 1992

Posted on 02. Oct, 2008 by .

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The Opening Of Saab Cars USA, Inc. Heaquarters in Norcross, Georgia was officially dedicated on June 9th, 1992.

Please read the original press release issued at the time as well as two letters from the then president of Saab Cars USA, Inc. Bill Kelly about the move to Norcross, Georgia from Orange, Connecticut that were published in Saab-Soundings magazine.

Dear Saab Friend,

There are many exciting developments underway at Saab Cars USA, Inc. Most notable is the fact that in the Spring Saab is relocating its U.S. Corporate headquarters to the Atlanta, Georgia area, the fastest growing business center and transportation hub in the Southeast. This move is an extremely proactive measure on Saab’s part to improve the company’s long-term competitiveness in these economically challenging but opportunity-filled times.
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Bill Kelly, Saab Cars USA President 1991-1994

Posted on 02. Oct, 2008 by .

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bill kelly Bill Kelly, Saab Cars USA President 1991 1994

Bill Kelly became acting President of Saab Cars USA, Inc. in Oct of 1991 replacing Sten Helling.

During his tenior, he worked in the corner office at the 35 Executive Boulevard building within Orange, Connecticut campus and was personally responsible for moving Saab-Scania of America, Inc. to Norcross, Georgia in 1992.

Here is his first excerpt from the original press release to the public, dated September 30th, 1991.

William S. Kelly Named President and Chief Executive Officer, Saab Cars, USA, Inc.

In conjunction with this announcement, William S. Kelly, 43, has been named president and chief executive officer, Saab Cars USA, Inc, succeeding Sten Helling who has chosen to remain in Connecticut, and will leave Saab after 11 years of dedicated service with the company.

Mr. Kelly previously served as vice president, sales and marketing, for the Swedish automobile manufacturer’s U.S. subsidiary. Prior to that, Kelly was Saab’s national sales manager in the United States and held various Saab field positions. He first joined Saab in 1980, and has a broad background in dealer relations.

Jan-Ake Jonsson, 40, will assume the position of vice president, sales and marketing, Saab Cars USA, Inc., and will report directly to Mr. Kelly. Before this appointment he was manager, North America Coordination, Saab Automobile AB, and served as the principal liaison between Saab’s U.S. sales and marketing activity and the Swedish parent company.

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Saab Cars USA – Norcross, Georgia (1992 – 2004)

Posted on 25. Apr, 2007 by .

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norcross front Saab Cars USA   Norcross, Georgia (1992   2004)

Photo Credit: Jason

Saab Cars USA, Inc.
4405 International Blvd
Norcross, GA 30093

Saab USA relocated from their Orange, Connecticut location at 60 Marsh Hill Road and 35 Executive Boulevard in 1992 to Norcross, Georgia.

In 2002, Saab USA began the relocation from this location to the Renaissance Center within General Motors (GM) Headquarters in Detroit, Michigan and it was completed in the fall of 2004.

In 2005, this location still managed all aspects of Saab USA’s customer service functions until it was finally closed down completely later that year in the continual consolidation program.

This move was part of a consolidation effectively ending what was known as “Saab Cars USA, Inc.”, to be Saab Automobile USA as a brand team in Detroit, Michigan.

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