I met Gerard Ratzmann last week. He is the managing director and founder of Ratzmann Automobile GmbH, which operates in Frankfurt-Fechenheim under “Saab-Service-Frankfurt”. Gerard and I are the same age and we share a passion for the Trollhättan brand. So we are with you and stay with you.
Gerard Ratzmann has a very good reputation in the Saab world and is said to have Saab in his blood. Now he has a Saab startup in Frankfurt-Fechenheim. My first question is about self-employment and the courage to found a new company with a focus on Saab.
Tom: Gerard, right at the beginning, in a concrete way. What did your family say when it heard about your plans for self-employment? Do you think you are crazy?
Gerard: My wife was really happy, she knows that Carl-Benz-Strasse is my first home. The rest of my family, I have two sons - twins - and one of them goes in my direction is also there. I had bought a Saab for my wife with an engine failure, and he was absolutely there when it was rebuilt. The family is behind me.
Tom: Gerard, there is a rumor that you own more than one Saab privately. How many are there?
He laughs and starts counting ...
Gerard: Four convertibles ... hmm, yesterday a new one was added, yes it will be 13, 14.
Tom: Okay. How did you come to Saab?
Gerard: I expected the question! I've been screwing since I was 8, my father already had a workshop. Then there was a VW workshop across the street, where I did an apprenticeship and worked for VW for a few years. My later best man was employed by Saab, and he then sent me to Saab. There I fell into the hands of Mr. Hartung, who is still with Saab ...
I've been with Saab since 1989 and stayed with it until today.
Tom: The later best man ...?
Gerard: The best man was actually a witness because I met my wife at Saab. She worked in the parts area.
Tom: A Saab marriage?
Gerard: Can you say that? It goes in this direction. That's why she's behind 100% and shares her passion for Saab.
Tom: Say, what are your favorite Saabs? Which one do you like most?
Gerard: Everyone, everyone.
Tom: Really everyone?
Gerard: You can say that. It's always special to sit in a Saab model. It doesn't matter whether it's a Saab 9-3 estate or a classic Saab. Or a Saab Cabriolet or a current 9-5. I take my time, look at the details, the switches, the fittings, the Saab-specific solutions. Every Saab is special ...
Tom: Are you going to work that way on particularly difficult problems? You were the head of the Saab Technik Kompetenz Center.
Gerard: Absolutely. I take my time. Put me in the car and put myself in the problem. Start from scratch, I'll be one in the car ... (laughs).
Tom: You put yourself in the car ..?
Gerard: You can say that sounds unusual, I know. Sometimes they are strange ways. But has always been so ...
Tom: Then you're Saab ...
Gerard: In principle, yes. There are pictures of Leslie Hunt on the topic of Saab. He immortalized me in one. A wrench with my initials ...
Tom: That says a lot about your suffering for Saab. One more question, what does your feeling say. Does it continue at Saab?
Gerard: I can still see light ...
Tom: Very good, me too. Gerard, thanks for the interview.
We then go across the yard, stopping at a Saab 9000. I have a technical question, we talk about the 9000, we open the doors.
The sealing strip on the rear doors, says Gerard Ratzman, has been my suggestion for improvement for the series. Without gasket the wind noise was too high. Only he had the sealing strip on the doors and not attached to the body. So you can get dirty at the entrance to the clothes.
Sometimes the engineers in Sweden would have better not change the proposals from Frankfurt, but should implement in the original. Gerard Ratzmann lives and screws Saab. Nice that he stays with it.