Tag Archives: Saab Cars USA

Saab History Interviews Joel Manby About Undercover Boss

Posted on 24. Mar, 2010 by .


Saab History has had the great chance once again to interview Joel Manby, Saab Cars USA’s former President (1996-2000). This interview is about about his recently mentioned experience on the CBS television series “Undercover Boss”.

A sincere thank you to Joel for his input about this series prior to the air date this Sunday night, March 28th at 9pm EST. I particularly like his last response pertaining to Saab Automobile.

Enjoy the interview below:

1) How did you initially get involved in CBS “Undercover Boss”?

The producers contacted us. They were looking for an entertainment company and theme parks provide a good visual background. Because we are independently owned, not associated with a media conglomerate, and have a variety of properties—-theme parks, aquariums, sightseeing operations— we were a good option for them.

2) What were some of the areas of the program that interested you most?

At first we were very skeptical. Anytime someone proactively approaches us and wants to produce a television show on our property, then healthy skepticism follows. But as we engaged in serious dialogue with them, we realized that they were really searching for companies who would embrace the concept and be willing to hold the mirror up to see what we could learn about ourselves. This wasn’t a scripted television program but rather an honest look at our employees and their roles within our organization. I know that when I visit our properties that I get special treatment, even though I don’t want it or ask for it. This was a unique opportunity to work the front lines in a way that I would never be able
to do currently. I know we have terrific employees—and I wanted to witness first-hand how dedicated and passionate our employees are as they interact with our guests to ‘create memories worth repeating’. I didn’t just want to observe, I wanted to participate and feel their passion. So, highlighting the good people of Herschend Family Entertainment was important to me.

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The Sunday River Ski Resort – Cold Brook Saab Partnership

Posted on 05. Mar, 2010 by .


Film Credit: Saab History

Cold Brook Saab of Skowhegan, Maine, an exclusive Saab dealership for over 46 years, continues to enjoy a strong customer following and has managed many continuous cross marketing opportunities over the years. The first one I covered this past November with Shipyard Brewery, the other one I am covering here with Sunday River, a leading ski resort in New England, located in Newry, Maine.

I first began learning about Sunday River’s use of Saab vehicles upon my first visit to the resort as a guest, back in January of 2007. It was during that visit where I noticed a beautiful black Saab 9-5 wagon complete with the Sunday River logo on it.

It was not until my recent connection with Cold Brook Saab where I learned from the owner of the dealer, Joey Joseph, that this partnership began 12 years ago with the resort. “We started establishing our cross marketing campaign with a sponsorship at Sugarloaf Ski Resort in 1995 and have since forged alliances with Sunday River Ski and Golf Resort and Shipyard Brewery in Portland.”

It’s interesting to note when the first partnership was established at Sunday River’s sister ski resort Sugarloaf, Saab Cars USA had a national involvement with it as well. At that time, it was more than just opportunities for showcasing Saab products as it included discounted lift tickets, priority parking, a ski race, luncheon, raffle, an opportunity to drive a new Saab for the week in addition to lodging discounts all for Saab owners!

The current fleet that Sunday River uses includes Saab 9-5 Sedans and 9-5 SportCombis as well as 9-7xs. These vehicles initially began as transportation vehicles for upper management serving as premium transportation for executives, much like what has been done at Shipyard Brewery who have many top executives driving Saabs from Cold Brook Saab also. Today, Saabs are not only owned by employees, but also serve functions such as public safety much like Aspen & Vail as well as VIP and guest transportation at this leading family oriented resort. With all of the Saabs driving around by Sunday River, it should be no surprise to learn that many of the guests of the resort also follow the same interest in Saabs as hinted to in the film.

After having this great experience at Sunday River to learn about this Saab partnership, it is clear that Cold Brook Saab and Sunday River both want this partnership to continue. With a newly created Saab organization in the United States, known as Saab Cars North America, along with some long awaited incredible product offerings that will clearly serve the best interests of this partnership and their customer’s demographic such as the Saab 9-3x, all new Saab 9-5 and 9-4x all equipped with Cross Wheel Drive, the future looks promising.

A special thanks to those at both at Sunday River ski resort as well as Cold Brook Saab for the opportunity to bring awareness of this ongoing Saab partnership.

Sunday River Ski Resort
15 South Ridge Road
Newry, Maine 04261

Cold Brook Saab
337 Madison Ave
Skowhegan, ME 04976

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Jan-Åke Jonsson Appreciation Society Formed

Posted on 23. Dec, 2009 by .



Photo Credit: Saab Automobile AB

An appreciation society has been formed for Jan-Åke Jonsson, Saab Automobile AB’s managing director who has been leading the company since April of 2005.

facebookI met him a few months later in June of 2005 at the Saab Festival at an outdoor bar-b-que and was introduced to him by Jay Spechian, the then President of Saab Cars USA. It was a time I will never forget.

Here is a quote from the facebook fan page that has been formed “His hard work, dedication, tenacity and optimism has been an inspiration to us all during this challenging year.”

There are many that have joined his page, so I encourage you to sign up there by clicking here!

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Saab History’s Contributions To Saab In The United States

Posted on 02. Oct, 2009 by .


As the new Saab Cars North America team prepares for their official start date next Monday, October 5th, I want to use this opportunity to write about Saab History’s contributions to Saab in the United States over the years.

Having led the New England Saab Association from nothing to something (1997-2001), it was time for me to take some time off. Since that time, having lived in Sweden, I developed a somewhat new found interest in Saab from that perspective and continued it while then moving to Washington, D.C. during the whole House of Sweden launch.

It was upon arrival in D.C. in 2004, when we began learning that the Saab Cars USA team was moved to Detroit from Norcross, Georgia and that the team dynamics of the organization had permanently changed.

The motivation and re-association with Saab at a greater level began somewhere in the spring of 2005, when we also learned that many people were let go, retired and that a lot of information and historical data had been literally thrown in the trash. It was here where we began to ask ourselves, what was going on with Saab Cars USA at this time and why so much turmoil? I know many people thought that perhaps at a basic level, we should do something about this loss of institutional knowledge and information for the car company that we loved.

This idea of doing something, initially began by gathering all of the Saab material, particularly videos, and launching the website, Saab Videos, in an attempt to get the information back out to the world about what was done over the years in a somewhat chronological organized order. Upon launching this website, the traffic increased so much due to demand that it sent the site into it’s own turmoil. It was decided that something had to be done, and with the material that was received which involved more than just videos, Saab History was launched a good year and a half later in the fall of 2006.

Saab History then began to grow, attracting a much larger audience while also adding more content for the original videos project. The site based on a blog format, developed from a content resource to a news blog referencing the past, present and future of Saab.

In the spring of 2007, the Saab Automobile USA team at the time, initiated by my former colleague, Jan-Willem Vester, began the first of many ongoing invites to events with other members of the media to communicate Saab as a journalist. It is here where they saw the value of my site, my visitors and what I could do for them, in promoting their products.

The following year, Saab History managed to showcase where some of that material that was not thrown out, ended up, that being the Saab USA press releases and photos at the GM Heritage Center, the Videos at the GM Media Archive. In addition to those two information resources, we of course also covered the heritage collection cars, which was also illustrated here on Saab History. As the year continued, visitors continued to grow and even double year on year and the impressions for Saab in a global sense spanned over 2,000,000 impressions per month. That same year, Saab History was designated as a subject matter expert for Saab Automobile, globally.

As 2009 came around, the news separating fact from fiction became even more important as Saab Automobile entered a 6-month reconstruction phase. As a leading resource for Saab news, customers, dealerships and former employees followed Saab History to learn about where Saab was headed during this critical year, and that continues right to this very day.

By now, those visitors that have been following Saab History from the very beginning have certainly learned more than they probably ever thought they would about Saab’s history, and that was the point. Today, visitors even include current Saab employees that are rebuilding their own company here in the United States as first mentioned. These employees now have all of the information and free education at their fingertips due to a venture that has been building up for five years now. In promoting, encouraging, educating and informing the global Saab Community, it’s time to see this effort’s information “absorbed” by the new team.

While I am a Saab Historian, editor and promoter of Saab in a global sense, with particular regional attention here in the United States, the support received from the dealers, independents, community, and the motoring public has been critical to the continued existence of this resource. This resource reflects not just the work of one person, it reflects through my efforts, the work of generations of individuals in the global Saab community from former employees to the Sinclair family today.

As the team gets underway next Monday, they need to ensure that they do not repeat the mistakes of the past and begin a fresh and innovative approach for their future Saab Cars North America team, moving forward. The question we must ask ourselves today is, will the new Saab Cars North America, find their own road to the state of independence and success for the new era, or will they repeat the mistakes of the past? Stay Tuned.

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” – Sir Winston Churchill*

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Saab 9-3x Concept Car Promo Video 2002

Posted on 04. Feb, 2009 by .



As we get closer to the time when Saab Automobile will be finishing their filming of the Saab 9-3x Cross-Combi in Kiruna, Sweden, I think it’s a good time to showcase the 9-3x Concept Car that debuted back in 2002.

This concept car, shown seven years ago was the prelude to the 9-3x Cross-Combi as former President of Saab Cars USA, Joel Manby indicated. We were supposed to see the 9-3x Cross-Combi in 2003, but it was shelved, then launched as a regular SportCombi a few years later, and now we’re going to see the real thing, a whole six years later. I understand through some anonymous Saab History insiders that the AWD system was too expensive to launch at the time, so the entire project was put on hold by GM, what a shame. It’s obvious though especially in the video because they didn’t even have the branding of the all-wheel drive system down at that point, because they called it “AWD” instead of “XWD“. At least the Saab 9-3x Cross-Combi is finally going to be here, and hopefully rightsized and not a V6 as this video indicates.

If you are still unsure what the difference between the concept car and the production car are, I posted a piece on the difference between the two with images.

Anyways, enjoy this film and start visualizing what the next film will look like of the Saab 9-3x Cross-Combi plowing through snow up in Kiruna, Sweden, I can’t wait!

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Saab History Interviews Former Saab USA President Joel Manby

Posted on 31. Dec, 2008 by .



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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Saab Cars USA President Joel Manby : 1996 – 2000

Posted on 15. Dec, 2008 by .



Photo Credit: Saab Automobile USA

Joel Manby, took over as President of Saab Cars USA from June 1996 where he worked at the Norcross, Georgia headquarters.

Over his time with Saab, he saw a lot including the global launch of the Saab 9-5 which included the North American launch at the 1997 Saab Owners Convention 50th Jubillee in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire.

His tenure with Saab Cars USA came to an end in April of 2000 when General Motors then took over a majority stake (100%) of Saab Automobile AB.

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

Posted on 25. Nov, 2008 by .



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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Production Concept