Tag Archives: SAAB Motors Inc.

John Moss Presentation At 2009 Saab Owners Convention

Posted on 25. Aug, 2009 by .

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Film Credit: Saab History

John Moss, longtime National Saab technical trainer (1968-2005), gave quite a speech at the 2009 Saab Owners Convention that I managed to capture for us here on Saab History.

His account covered his career’s start with SAAB Motors, Inc. at 100 Waterfront Street in New Haven, Connecticut. Captivating the audience, he made us feel as though we were there as he described the activities floor by floor, the parts and service center and the shipping docks complete with many interesting jokes along the way.

A sincere thank you to Mr. Moss for allowing me to share his entire presentation of the early beginnings of both SAAB Motors, Inc. and his career, here on Saab History for those that were unable to attend the convention.

His Bio will be forthcoming.

References:

100 Waterfront Street, New Haven, CT (Yesterday & Today)

100 Waterfront Street, New Haven, CT (Vintage Photography Part 1)

100 Waterfront Street, New Haven, CT (Vintage Photography Part 2)

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While Saab Will Continue in the United States, The Term “Saab USA” Effectively No Longer Exists Under GM.

Posted on 22. May, 2009 by .

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Saab USA has been a term loosely used since Saab began operations in the United States back in 1956 as I mentioned in the history of the Saab HQ.

Since then the term has had many iterations, Saab Motors, Inc., Saab-Scania of America, Inc, Saab Cars USA, Inc. and Saab Automobile USA.

It’s important to indicate that the term “Saab USA” in a separate business entity sense, no longer represents a group of people solely responsible for taking care of Saab operations in the United States.

Gradually, under the GM umbrella, it has been moving into the GM fold since 1992, again in 2004, and finally in the spring of 2009 where it effectively disappeared into the abyss of “GM Premium brands”.

However, Saab will continue in the United States and with the new Saab just around the corner, I am hoping for a relaunch in the United States of a separate entity something to the effect of Saab Automobile North America, Inc.

Here is a piece from a Mr. Klaus Peter at GM, who is temporarily filling in for Jan-Willem Vester’s rather large shoes describing what “Saab USA” is today under existing GM ownership.

The Saab headquarters is in Sweden, the US branch is basically a marketing unit.

When it comes to engineering, purchasing, etc., in most cases there are no employees assigned to specific brands. Teams work on small, mid-size, full size etc. vehicles.

There are many people in GM working on Saab-related tasks in Marketing, Engineering, Design, Purchasing and so on. Most of these employees also handle responsibilties related to other GM brands. On the highest corporate level there is of course Fritz Henderson and his senior leadership team.

So basically, “Saab USA” is just a marketing unit and the only person in that unit is Steve Shannon, and even he doesn’t do it full-time as he works with Cadillac & Hummer as well. Hence, there are no longer any full-time employees working specifically on Saab related tasks and responsibilities.

Saab USA is for all intents and purposes just now a name, a third of one person’s responsibilities (ie. Steve Shannon) , a website front-end (www.saabusa.com), and 225 incredible dealerships continuing to fight the good fight.

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History Of The Saab USA HQ In The United States

Posted on 29. Apr, 2009 by .

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The history of Saab business has taken many routes over the years, and I thought it would now be the best time to briefly discuss where it started and hopefully where it’s heading.

In 1956, SAAB Motors, Inc. was established by Ralph Millet headquartered in New York City with a port in Hingham, Massachusetts.

In 1961, SAAB Motors, Inc. merged and relocated their headquarters and port to one facility in New Haven, Connecticut. This facility would be used for a period of 10 years, the duration of the lease.

In 1971, the newly merged company, Saab-Scania of America, Inc., began operations in Orange, Connecticut creating a rather large campus spanning two areas North and South of Interstate 95. These facilities included 60 Marsh Hill Road, 35 Executive Boulevardin 1988, 15 Executive Boulevard, a SCANIA truck facility North of the interstate, a large parts facility nearby in Meriden in 1987, and a training facility in Wallingford in 1998.

In 1992, following the GM 50% merger, newly established Saab Cars USA, Inc. began operations in Norcross, Georgia while their parts depot was also relocated to Allentown, Pennsylvania.

In late 2004, a newly former Saab Automobile USA brand team moved to the Renaissance Center at GM headquarters in Detroit, Michigan. In the fall of 2008, this brand team became consolidated into what is known as GM Premium Brands.

I am hopeful that Saab will carry on in a new capacity stateside as ‘Saab Automobile North America’ with a head office situated back in New England, North of Boston on the seacoast.

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Saab USA Former Employee Reunion At 2009 SOC

Posted on 15. Apr, 2009 by .

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The 2009 Saab Owners Convention in Copper Mountain Colorado, hosted by the Rocky Mountain Saab Club and sponsored by Mile Hi Body Shop in Denver, is four months from now.

As part of this convention, it is important to celebrate those people that made the difference all of those years with Saab Automobile in the United States, the employees.

Here is the press release below:

Saab USA Former Employee Reunion 2009 at 2009 SOC August 13th-16th, 2009

socsmall.jpgIt is the work that many of you did that has contributed to Saab’s presence here over the years in the United States and that is why it’s important to celebrate each and every one of your accomplishments.

As a way for everyone to say thank you for your hard work, I am coordinating an effort for a Saab USA former employees reunion at the 2009 Saab Owners Convention in Copper Mountain, Colorado just one hour from Denver, Colorado this August 13th-16th.

This is a pivotal year for Saab Automobile in the United States and with your help; it’s important to have a great gathering to reflect on Saab in the United States, meet old friends, make new friends and have a good time is what this effort is all about.

If you remember the first one that took place in Connecticut in 2005, over 150 former employees attended, so this one should be great as well.

I am putting together a former Saab USA employees address book and would like to know if it is okay with you to include your name and address onto the updated list. If you also know anyone else that can be included on the list, please let me know.

If you worked at any of the following offices or eras, please feel free to contact me to be added to the list.

SAAB Motors, Inc. (1956-1961) 405 Park Avenue, New York, NY
SAAB Motors, Inc./Saab-Scania of America, Inc. (1961-1971) 100 Waterfront Street, New Haven, CT
Saab-Scania of America, Inc. (1972-1992) 60 Marsh Hill Road, Orange, CT/35 Executive Boulevard, Orange, CT. & other campuses
Saab Cars, USA, Inc. (1992-2004) Norcross, Georgia and other regional offices
Saab Automobile USA (2004-2009) Detroit, Michigan and other regional offices (ie. 15 Executive Boulevard)
I am hopeful a new Saab Automobile Of North America, Inc. will emerge in New England by the end of 2009 as part of the New Saab Automobile announced on February 20th, 2009. (2009- ?)

In the meantime, I urge you to register for the convention by clicking here directly for all of the details and for more information.

I look forward to your response and thank you for your time and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at your earliest convenience.

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Ryan

Editor, Historian & Promoter

Saab History – Past, Present & Future

http://www.saabhistory.com

info@saabhistory.com

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Saab History Suggests That Saab Automobile USA Leave Detroit & Relocate Headquarters Back To New England

Posted on 27. Mar, 2009 by .

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saab_departure.jpg

Photo Credit: Saab History

As Saab Automobile AB continues its reconstruction process and General Motors work out deals pertaining to their future, there are a lot of areas now that are being forgotten, namely the number one market in the world, the United States.

As others have also suggested, it seems clear that between now and December 31st, 2009, when General Motors ends its funding of Saab Automobile AB, it should be easily understood and obvious that Saab Automobile USA’s offices will no longer have any reason to be located within the Renaissance Center at GM headquarters in Detroit, Michigan.

I believe that Saab Automobile USA should not only leave the GM Renaissance Center, but Detroit, Michigan entirely. I am not the only one that thinks so, many now former Saab employees beginning in 2002, and again in 2005 chose not to move to Detroit.

As you know, the Northeast region of the United States is where Saab began its stateside operations in 1956. The Northeast region is also still Saab’s most significant share of the market. Over the past few years, the sales in this region have been reduced due to the lack of institutional knowledge being applied to the Saab brand in the areas of Products, Promotions, Placement and dealership development. Ralph Millet & Bob Sinclair’s team at SAAB Motors, Inc. & Saab-Scania of America, Inc. respectively, did an incredible job in these areas. During their long tenures the company’s headquarters was located in the Northeast region of the United States at both New Haven (10-years) as well as Orange, Connecticut (20-years). It was location that was certainly a factor at building a stronghold in this geographic region over 30 years, it was certainly not irrelevant. Another example besides Saab, would be L.L. Bean in Maine, as a current model of this kind of geographic influence on building a strong and loyal customer base over a period of time due to proxemics.

Let’s also not forget as Saab History has been recently brought up to speed on, it was General Motors that forcibly moved Saab Cars USA, Inc. in 1992 to Norcross, Georgia from It’s Orange, Connecticut campus. This decision to make this move was against not only the wishes of the Saab leadership and staff, but also against the advisement of a Boston based consultancy firm that did a 1-month review of the pros/cons of moving out of New England. Their findings, stay in New England, your number one market. It’s one thing to relocate headquarters from one place to another, but when you’ve built a loyal following and customer base over 30 years and leave, you are not just relocating, you are turning your back on your roots. It’s time to return home.

When Saab Automobile emerges from reconstruction, there will need to be a clear and concerted effort in re-establishing itself in in the United States beginning with the relocating of the Saab Automobile USA headquarters relocating back to where it began. I can envision a new low overhead headquarters in the greater Boston, Massachusetts region named “Saab Automobile of North America, Inc”, complete with the GM Heritage Center & Saab Media Archives stacks also relocated within, as the first step in the right direction.

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Clyde Billing, Inc. Saab Dealership – Washington-Augusta Maine (1958-2002)

Posted on 23. Mar, 2009 by .

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clydebilling.jpg

Photo Credit: Clyde Billing, Inc.

Clyde Billing, Inc. was operated as one of the first Saab dealerships in the country, established on April 1st, 1958 in Washington, Maine.

Clyde & Harriet Billing began this dealership initially in 1955, then took on the SAAB dealership when the first President of SAAB Motors, Inc. Ralph Millet, launched the nationwide dealership network just after SAAB arrived in the United States.

The Billings Family have had a long history with Saab in the United States and to this very day, Clyde Billings still own an original SAAB model 92A, a vehicle that was never officially imported into the United States. His son Bruce, continues to hold the torch for family in New England as an avid event going enthusiast and member of the New England Saab Association.

Here are some more details about the evolution of this SAAB dealership from Bruce Billing today.

I have sent along an aerial view of the original dealership, Washington Garage. It was located on route 220 in the center of Washington Village. It was operated from 1955 until 1966, and they became a SAAB dealer in 1958.

The Washington garage burned down in 1973, all operations had moved to Augusta by 1967. The second garage was used up til 1980, the dealership then moved to where
it is today. The second garage no longer exists either, the current dealership is O’Connor SAAB-VW at 258 State St. in Augusta (1980-present). O’Connor bought dealership in
2002. Where the original dealership was in Washington is now a park.

regards, Bruce

What: Clyde Billing, Inc.

Who: Clyde & Harriet Billing

When: 1958 – 1967, 1967- 2002

Where: Route 220, Washington, Maine (In Center of Village), 2nd garage, 258 State Street Augusta

Clyde Billings, Inc. resides as one of the original SAAB dealerships, now archived in the The Lost Saab Dealerships Of New England Project.

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Saab-Scania Of America Corporate Photos – 1979

Posted on 23. Nov, 2008 by .

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Photo Credits: Lavona Buchner

Lavona Buchner, a former Saab-Scania Of America, Inc. employee has recently contacted me and let me borrow a wonderful photo album full of vintage photographs dating back to the 1979 era.

At this time, it was Bob Sinclair’s first year returning back to Saab-Scania Of America as president, since the early years with SAAB Motors, Inc.

The photos above include Bob Sinclair’s return along with some photos of Lennart Lonnegren as well as Lavona Buchner while working at 60 Marsh Hill Road in Orange, Connecticut.

I have been able to, thanks to her kind help, note the who, what, where and when in most cases here. A sincere thank you to Lavona who thoroughly enjoyed her years as an employee with Saab-Scania of America for bringing us this material for others to share for years to come!

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Shaw Saab Promotes The “Right” Type Of Horse Power

Posted on 29. Sep, 2008 by .

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Photo Credit: Shaw Saab

Shaw Saab, a Saab History site sponsor, promotes the “right” type of horse power by providing a vintage poster from their dealership circa 1959 by SAAB Motors, Inc.

Here is a bulleted run down of the systems:

“SPLIT” sytem..inefficient and cumbersom, because power source and drive wheels are separated.

“PUSH” system…unstable and unbalanced, because car is pushed from behind without sufficient weight in front.

SAAB system..Perfect pulling power, because both engine and drive wheels are up front for maximum stability, traction and efficiency.

Let’s keep in mind that it’s torque that really matters, but having the right type of horsepower is critical to torque’s success.

There are two posts that I think will help educate us as to why torque matters, one posted in 2005 and another in 2007 as follows:

“Talking Torque, The Secret of Saabs Pulling Power” – Press Release, 2005

Horsepower & Torque 101. – Promo Video, 2007

A thank you to Shaw Saab for once again reminding us that while torque is important, it’s the “right” type of horsepower that ultimately matters!

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