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Memo to a young, new Saab – please move your US headquarters out of Detroit

March 19, 2009 in Archive

As I look forward to a new, wholly-owned-by-a-responsible-company version of Saab, I thought I’d dream a little of the Saab I’d like to see. These are just the thoughts of an enthusiast and I don’t really know how viable they are, but I don’t think they’re beyond being a possibility.
A renewed and optimistic Saab will hopefully have the chance to do more than just bring out three new models in the next 18 months.
A new, separate Saab will also hopefully have the opportunity to re-vamp its sales and marketing networks. In Saab’s biggest market, the US, those functions are based at GM’s headquarters in the Renaissance Center in Detroit.
I hope the Detroit natives who are reading this aren’t offended, but having visited there in January last year, I can honestly say that I think Saab’s employees in the US would be at least 20% more productive in a better environment – through nothing more than sheer happiness with where they’re living.
There’s obviously some good neighborhoods in Detroit, but they were some way away from the bits of the city that I saw. What I saw was a concrete jungle that was surely just a shadow of its former self.
I don’t know of any other city in the world that’s been the subject of a number of recent photographic essays focused solely on the city’s decay. Here’s one at Time Magazine, for example.
I’m not sure what the community spirit would be like there with so many people in the same boat. I guess you’ve got to either pull together, or crumble together. I’m guessing they’ve figured out a way to accentuate the positive and work together.
But still, I wonder how many of Detroit’s serious car guys and girls would prefer to be practising their chosen profession in a warmer and more friendly place.
With their independence from GM literally just months away, I hope Saab give some thought to relocating their staff in Detroit to a new location.
Perhaps they could move back to Saab’s heartland in the north-east? Maybe they can try and expand their outlook with a move to California or join the collective mile-high cub in Colorado?
It’s a new dawn, a new day. Time for the Saab staff to start feeling good.

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