Bloggers are closer. They are contemporary witnesses, report faster than other media and mostly specialize in one topic. If you blog for the cult brand Saab, you will experience many ups and downs. The past few months have been ups and downs, and perseverance is sometimes put to the test. So much the better if you can write about a Saab success story. A success story “made in Germany”.
Flashback to kick off a “Saab inside story”. December 19, 2011. Back then it didn't look like a success. On the contrary, everything seemed pitch black. Victor Muller filed for bankruptcy filing for Saab Automobile AB that day. In the afternoon, he said goodbye to employees in the International Market Call, not without trying to encourage him. Swedish law allows Saab to get back on the market from bankruptcy, he says. And then "... until January, we'll hear you again". It was Muller's last conference call as Saab CEO. He never came back.
It was a bad Christmas for the Saab employees. It was even worse, it has not been written yet, for the international employees. In Trollhättan the lights went out and nobody felt more responsible for the Saab employees around the globe. Many Saabians here in Germany have a large family that needs to be fed. It was a dark Christmas 2011, left alone by Sweden, and in this situation some lights went out at some national companies.
While the plugs were pulled in some countries, in Sweden, England and Germany - to name just a few - it continued after a short pause. The challenges were great, and a mixture of Wilhelminian style, Saab spirit and the unconditional will to succeed spread.
In Nyköping, at the independent Saab Parts AB, new structures had to be created. Involved in the entanglements of a group, many administrative tasks were done in Trollhättan. These structures had broken away overnight. In Germany it looked even more threatening.
As a branch of Automobile AB, the German market was dependent on the structures in Trollhättan. But these had ceased to exist. Improvisation and courage were required. During the months of the crisis, the blog and Saab were in close contact, and there were often calls at night with a Saab employee. In late December and early January in particular, there were many discussions and, I suspect, little sleep. But it was clear ... Saab Germany is fighting and not giving up. It goes on.
Computer companies are founded in garages. What about car companies that dare to rebuild? The restart of Saab took place in the provisional offices in Frankfurt-Fechenheim and in a home office. An exceptional situation, due to the special situation, a departure into a new era. Employment contracts? Employment was in these wild weeks with a handshake. The word applies. Salary payments from Sweden? Come, somehow. The oral contracts have held until today. Meanwhile, they are fixed in writing, and the salary payments always took place. Is that normal? That's Saab. That's the famous Saab spirit.
The situation did not get any easier in the first months of the year 2012. The GMAC Bank collected the company cars all over the world on the basis of a global security transfer made with Trollhättan. No company cars, no field service. From Sweden, even with the creation of structures and with the securing of supply contracts, no help was to be expected.
The field service has to run. Presence on site, the famous “show the flag”, is without alternative in this location. So you got vehicles. Each employee found his own, very individual solution. A used Saab 902 found its way back to Saab services and made a late career. Other employees borrowed cars from friends. So a wild fleet came together. Sometimes the most adventurous cars, which were then parked around the corner at the on-site appointment. The Saab employee visits the dealer on foot. Many Saab partners will have thought about it.
During the team meetings, a colorful fleet of different makes stood in front of the doors. No one would have suspected an event from Saab Germany. Saab undercover! These were the moving founding months. Meanwhile, the Saab field service drives again with the right vehicles through the Republic.
The months passed, and a success story was born in Germany. With a lot of personal commitment and good ideas. And with the help of Saab fans, without whom it would not have worked. They made a clear statement for their brand. Instead of switching to independent workshops, they kept their loyalty to their dealers, investing money in their cars. The sales figures went up, for Saab Partner and the German branch of Saab Parts AB a clear signal.
Many good ideas have meanwhile gone from Germany to Nyköping. Many were taken over, contributed to the improvement of the business. The German market is important and one of the key markets. Our voice is heard in Sweden. The supply of spare parts with original parts is now at a high level, the website redesigned.
For several months, the branch of Saab Parts AB, which is now an independent subsidiary of Sweden, has found a new home in Eschborn. Swedish Distribution Services Germany GmbH, the new name, still carries the proud Saab logo and is responsible for Germany and Austria.
As a fan of the brand and as a blogger I would say: Everything was done right! Even though the times were rough and required a lot of commitment. It goes on, the story of success has not ended yet. The start-up team, as I call it now, will receive additional staff. The product range is being improved and further expanded. For us, the customers who travel daily with their Saab, will do a lot in the coming months. It will, I can tell, give more service around our cars, because in Eschborn I was allowed a little glimpse into the future.
A success story can only be continued if it fits all sides. For Saab, the partners and for the fans. We are on a good way.