Goodbye and thanks to Saabs United – hello new world!
March 15, 2011 in Editorial
Wow. After six years, it’s time for me to sign off from Saabs United.
My thanks to everyone for your kind thoughts, comments and emails since the announcement was made that I’d be leaving SU (thanks to RedJ for the banner that’s been up for the last few days, too).
It wouldn’t be a true Saab story, however, if there wasn’t another twist in the tale…..
I’ve mentioned previously that my decision to leave Saabs United is due to me having too many balls to juggle all at once. My regular job, my family and my work with Saabs United were too much to fit into one personal 24 hour period. Something had to change and the first change was to sell Saabs United. I’m pleased to be able to tell you that it’s not the only change that’s taking place, however.
My regular job was getting in the way of my Saab duties, so I’ve set my regular job aside.
Saab Automobile are going to take some very big steps in bringing the company closer to their customers. Saab has hired me to be involved, as part of a global team, in a sustained social media presence that will see Saab presented from an inside view, allowing you access to company events, key people and of course, the cars themselves – in a way that no bigger car company can do.
We will aim to create relationships between the company and the community that supports it, giving you greater access to the company and the types of experiences that Saab are already known for.
Saab are very appreciative of all the community support they’ve received and they want to build on that relationship and give something back. It’s a very exciting challenge and one that I can’t wait to sink my teeth into.
There will be a press release from Saab in a few hours from now. Exciting times!
The following is a note I received today from Victor Muller, who asked me to share it here as part of this post.
It is a given that you have played a key role in saving Saab last year by mobilizing tens of thousands of enthusiasts to rally in support of the company. You have single handedly proven the importance social media has nowadays in situations like the one Saab went through. You became one of my most powerful allies in those trying times which now are fortunately behind us.
We have learned that with the right approach, a brand can be activated in ways which were inconceivable just a few years ago. As a result we have made you an offer to come and work for us at Saab so as to allow you to dedicate your talents to the company which made it in part also because of you.
I thank you for what you did as Saabsunited and welcome you to Saab Automobile, where you will continue to unite all of us who cherish this iconic brand.
I wish the new owner of Saabs United and his committed crew all the success in the world and am confident that they will manage to enthuse countless avid Saabisti to support our brand and company in the years to come.
I have a whole bunch of thankyous to give here as part of my sign off. It just wouldn’t be right to finish up here without recognising the people who have provided support along the way.
This is a long list, so buckle up.
My first thanks must go to Victor Muller and the Spyker team for saving this company, giving it a new life and of course, asking me to be a part of it. You have a willing servant.
To Jan-Ake Jonsson, because the inspiration you provide is by no means confined to the people in your direct employment.
To Christer Nilsson, my first official contact point at Saab and a true PR professional and gentleman. An inspiration.
To Joe Oliver and Eric Geers for their continued support and allowing SU to be an occasional pain in the backside without telling me how much of a pain I really was.
To the late Jan-Willem Vester, again a true gentleman who put up with more from me in the GM days than one man should ever have to. Being unable to reconcile with you is quite possibly the greatest regret of my Saab-related career and your wonderful nature drives me to this day.
To John Libbos, an irreplaceable fountain of knowledge at Saab Cars North America and a great guy as well.
To the late, and very great Bob Sinclair, who embodied The Spirit of Saab more than any one person I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.
To Mr Saab, Erik Carlsson, who continues to embody the Spirit of Saab today. A man I’m proud to have met.
To Peter Backstrom and Ola Bollander at the Saab Museum – I’ll bring the Tim Tams! Thanks for making this site so much more interesting.
To Peter Johansson, the father of XWD and now at eAAM, for being a wonderful ambassador to the company and for scaring the pants off me in a Turbo-X a few years ago.
To Pierre Belperron and the gang at Charles River Saab, as well as Darryl Carl at New Salem Saab, Fred Shaw at Shaw Saab, Kurt Schirm at International Saab, AJ Murphy at Just Saab, John Carter at General Sales Saab and all the other dealers and salespeople I’ve had contact with over the years – you guys are the frontline and I couldn’t be more proud to know you.
Thanks also to the various people who kept me informed and involved through the Saab sale process. You were involved in a very special time for Saab and your tenacity and heart helped the company to see a new dawn. You know who you are.
And finally, to all the Saab people who have obliged with interviews and thought pieces over the years – Anthony Lo, Gunilla Gustavs, Simon Padian, Jason Castriota, Mikael Jakobsson, Christopher McKinnon, Bjorn Envall, Taras Czorny, Alex Daniel, Parveen Batish, Emily Perry, Sofie Van Damme and many, many more – how many other car companies would have their people so available to a little independent website from Australia?
From Trollhattan Saab and Saabs United….
To Djup Strupe for all the photos, information and everything else that a blog like this loves to sift through. Thanks for your trust and I hope I’ve respected the confidence you showed in me.
To SaabKen, for those first encouraging words.
To Eggs n Grits, for being a fantastic foil and a safe pair of hands anytime I needed them. You inspire confidence.
To Lance Cole, for your wisdom and perspective, which was a treat for everyone who visited and read your work here.
To 1984Gripen, who not only provided some incredible coverage for the site, but who also gave up his time to pick me up in LA and share the most wonderful day in Santa Barabara with Bob Sinclair.
To my good mate Ivan for all the T-Shirt designs you people love to wear. Have a great time in Boston, mate.
To Tiago Do Vale for all the help with graphics over the years.
To ctm, who I miss very much, and who provided many a Swedish translation long before Google Translate ever existed.
To my latest writing partner here on the site, RedJ, whose incredible work at Geneva cemented the decision to pass the site on to the new crew.
To all of those in England who showed my wife that there’s not just great cars involved in the Saab lifestyle, but great people too. Chief amongst them, Mike and Hilary (this acknowledgement seems way too little for you two), the constantly smiling Elie, our unofficial Saab Ambassador to the UK, Robin M and our London tour guide and friend, ARUK.
To Greg Abbott for providing a steady voice for six years, now, and some solid advice and morale in Detroit back in 2008.
To Till72, who also has been a rock-steady voice and a great example to follow with his Saab 9-3x and his love for all things Hirsch. See you in Frankfurt, mate.
To all the great friends I’ve made in Sweden – TimR and Johanna, Rune and Anna, Tompa and Carola, and especially Mats K, who gave me my first tour around THN and remains a great friend to this day and a constant support.
To all my Aussie mates, John ‘The Hammer’, Saabill, Craig Y, Matt the fudgepacker, Tony B and especially Drew B here in Hobart. Jeff B, Dan, Alaero, SAB, Clive, Simon P, Upulie, Mike900 and others in Melbourne, the wonderful BBC crowd in Sydney and all the other Aussie Saabnuts I’ve met or corresponded with here and there. All of you have contributed stories to this site in various ways over the years and I look forward to our future here, downunder.
There are too many more to list here, but so many people have provided friendship and support over a prolonged period of time. Every person involved with this website who’s ever come up to say hello or shared a meal or other occasion, your support and friendship has meant so much to me and more than you know, you’ve played a part in keeping this site ticking over.
And of course, a site like this is nothing without the community that visits it, and gives it a pulse. You’ve come from all corners of the globe and enriched my life with your contributions here. You’ve supported Saab when they needed you, from the Mad Dutchies who started the whole Saab Support Convoy thing, to the people in villages in China, where I never even knew Saabs existed. Thanks to all for dropping by and I hope to see you all some time soon.
From the Saab-webosphere and the mainstream media….
To Ola Kinnander from Bloomberg, for teaching me about journalistic professionalism just by being who he is.
To Johan Oberg for restoring my faith (a late, but worthy addition).
To Par Brandt from Auto Motor and Sport, who is one of the most important people I’ve met on this whole journey because he gave me confidence and made me believe. A great guy, for a vegetarian 🙂
To Ivo, for making me take a second look.
To Ray Wert from Jalopnik, who’s great fun at a motorshow and played a bigger role in helping Saab than most people recognise.
To Mark McCourt, who keeps the old-timers front and center at Hemmings.
To Gunnar at ADLX for being just so darn dapper!
To Ryan Emge at Saab History, with whom I rarely saw eye to eye, but whose powers as an archivist I’ve always respected and whose role in the first Saab Support Convoy, in Detroit, should be remembered.
To Etienne, from Saablog-in, who started his blogging journey around the same time as I did, and whose friendship has warmed the hearts of Saab fans all over Europe.
To Scott Patterson at Saabnet, whom I misjudged terribly when I first started writing, and whose long service to the Saab online community should be recongnised.
And to all the other bloggers, webmasters, forum mods and others who make the Saab online community such a vibrant place. Thanks to all for your comeraderie and support over the time we’ve been associated.
From my sponsors, who I’m proud to say are also friends….
I’ve been incredibly fortunate in that I’ve never had to go doorknocking for sponsorship. I’ve had a core group of sponsors who have stood by Saabs United for a long time.
Special thanks to John at Elkparts, who was my first ever sponsor and remains one to this day. John’s a great guy who’s support was instrumental in the early days of TS.
To Manfred and the team at Hirsch Performance. It’s been an honour to have you guys on board.
To Fredrik and the team at Maptun, who I can only wish I got to know earlier because they’re so dedicated to excellence and such huge Saab nuts.
To all the team at MobilForum, in Dresden, without whom the Saab Community would never have had the Rescue-Saab movement back in 2009.
To Dan DeVlieger at State of Nine, the quiet achiever, who keeps pumping out better and better Saab Accessories each year. You, my friend, are a true believer.
And finally, to all the crew at SaabUSA Parts, the first sponsor I’ve had to say no to because they felt they weren’t supporting SU enough! You are gold.
I know they aren’t sponsors. In fact, SU sponsored them, but it’s only right to recognise the Saabs United Historic Rally Team in this space as well. Whilst I supported them with some finance, they gave back plenty in terms of preserving older Saabs, great stories to tell and of course, helping to keep the spirit of Saab motorsport alive.
From the bottom of my heart……
Back during the Saab sale days, there were a core group of people who helped me by keeping my head straight and helping me sort through the various messes that were presenting themselves. Their help kept Saabs United as the only site anywhere that retained a near 100% record for accuracy through that process. I used to refer to them as the unofficial SU board. You guys know who you are and have my heartfelt appreciation.
Two of those guys are Aussies and I want to recognise them specifically because they’ve continued the unofficial task of keeping my muddled brain in one piece with their sage advice and great humour. They are PT and Turbin and I owe them my sanity, and most likely quite a bit more.
There’s one guy whose dedication and support to both Trollhattan Saab and Saabs United has been beyond what anyone would have the right to believe could happen, even in one’s wildest dreams. He is the barometer for all Saab customers, having owned over 30 of them from brand new and it’s to Saab GB’s detriment that he doesn’t own a new one right now (a situation that has to be remedied). I owe him more than I could ever repay, but I keep trying. Dave R, you’ve provided so much over the four years I’ve known you but I won’t embarass you by listing everything here as I know you’d hate it. Perhaps most importantly, you’ve provided a moral compass, sound ethics and more than a few great laughs. Dave, you are in many ways the backbone of this site.
And finally, of course, my everlasting thanks to my wonderful, neglected but still ever-supportive wife, PJ. I quite literally would be an empty shell without you.