This is our second dealer profile and if your remember we had asked Saab dealers around the globe to share their stories about who they are and what they do. One such dealer to take us up on that is Saab of Bellevue, Washington. We were contacted by their brand manager Hunter Ross, asking if they could have their story included. Saab of Bellevue is actually located just across the border from me and close to Seattle. I may need to make an excuse for a road trip to visit their beautiful showroom. Here is their story as told by Brand Manager, Hunter Ross.
Saab of Bellevue is one of the West Coast’s newest factory authorized Saab dealerships that is truly thrilled about rekindling the passion and commitment to the Saab brand that Seattle has always been so well known for. One trip over the 520 bridge into Seattle and the dedication to the brand is uncanny. From the sporadic old Saab 99 4-stroke, to the all-new 9-4X; there is a Saab enthusiast around every corner. Much of this local love for Saab was originally derived from the seafaring Scandinavian community that was attracted to the Ballard area for its great salmon fishing opportunities. Now, Ballard is home to the Nordic Heritage Museum and Swedish Cultural Center (which serves delicious Swedish meatballs and homemade pastries every Friday) whose devoted ethnic culture even celebrates Norwegian Constitution Day on the 17th of May. With so many prideful Scandinavian roots running deep through our area, the need to support our surrounding community is evident.
With Park Place Ltd as our parent dealer that deals with new Spyker, Aston Martin, Lotus, and an eclectic variety of pre-owned sports, luxury, and classic cars; adding Saab to our new-car line has proven to be one of our best decisions to date. The elated and appreciative responses we have had from local Saab owners and new car buyers has been astounding, especially when you consider the resilience that so many individuals have maintained since the beginning of Saab’s divorce from GM early last year.
Independently owned and operated by David Bingham and Butch Bockmier, Park Place Ltd has grown from a small wholesale dealer back in 1987 to our present full-service automobile dealership. Employing 72 people, we’re proud to host the Northwest’s largest indoor showroom. When I started here almost 6 years ago, Park Place Ltd was a dealer for only Lotus and Superformance while offering the aforementioned unique variety of pre-owned vehicles. While we still offer these brands today, we have since not only added Spyker, Aston Martin, and Saab; but we have expanded our facility across nearly 5 acres to create a one-stop shop for automotive enthusiasts alike. From our full service center, to our Auto Salon that offers everything from a hand car wash, to detail work and Griot’s Garage detailing supplies, to a full restoration shop. Even now, we just began offering the full line of Hirsch Performance Upgrades about three weeks ago, and there are still plans in the works to expand further in the near future.
However, our business goes far beyond just vehicle sales and service. We take community involvement very seriously and are proud to be involved with Children’s Hospital,ValleyGeneralHospital, Team Seattle, PONCHO,LeMayMuseum, andBellevueHigh School. Being a family-owned and operated business, it is important for us to give back as much as we can to enrich the lives and futures of others in our community.
But let’s get back to Saab. When we were originally looking at taking on the franchise once it was confirmed that Spyker Cars was going to save Saab, employee Saab stories began to surface from around our dealership. Some of us reminisced about the old 2-stroke days of the Sonett, or driving across Canada with a refrigerator stuffed in the back of a 900 Turbo, or “Scandinavian flicking” a 900 NG around Pacific Raceways, while I remembered my first Saab ever; a 1999 9-5 SE. If the words “Aero”, “Viggen”, or “SPG” are ever dropped around here, you will notice the surrounding peoples ears perk up rather quickly. It was a lot of fun to see the excitement amongst our employees as our commitment to Saab was finalized and cars starting being delivered to our beautiful new showroom. We knew that this was only the beginning of a great, long-lasting relationship with a brand that so many of us hold close to our hearts.
With that said, let me introduce you to a few of our Saab of Bellevue employees, beginning with myself:
I have been with the Park Place family since 2006, and am actually one of the newer additions to our team in relation to our dedicated group of employees, some who have been here for as long as 20 years. When we first began talking about taking on the Saab franchise, I was beyond eager to get involved with this new addition to our dealership. Ever since I was a kid, I have been enamored by the unique designs and features that Saab has always innovated. When I eventually traded my 1999 Saab 9-5 SE for my 2003 Saab 9-5 Aero, I became even more entrenched in the Saab enthusiast culture. I found myself spending countless hours sifting through the plethora of amazing information on the SaabNet Forums or lusting after the Hirsch upgrades that had not yet been introduced into the US market. There has always been a unique appeal about Saab’s that no other manufacturer has been able to duplicate. Saabs are not like any other car on the road, nor should they be, and that’s why I love them so much.
Today, I am the Brand Manager for Saab of Bellevue and am situated inside our gorgeous new Saab showroom, overlooking a Diamond Silver 9-4X Premium, an Arctic White 9-5, and what has become my favorite Saab we have in stock: A 2011 Saab 9-3 Aero Sedan 6-Speed with nearly $12k in Hirsch upgrades! This car was the actual 9-3 Aero that Hirsch unveiled at both the Chicago and Detroit Auto Show’s to launch Hirsch’s introduction into the US market. Outside, we currently have 21 Saabs in-stock between both pre-owned and brand new, currently with close to an even 50/50 split. This is simply a great place to work.
But enough about me. As a Saab customer, the next person who you will meet is our Saab Service Adviser, Brian Teague. Between working on both the sales and service side, Brian has an extensive background with the brand having worked for the previous Saab dealership in Bellevue starting back in 1990, and has been with the brand ever since, joining us at Saab of Bellevue when we took on the franchise last year. Having the Saab bug, Brian has owned four various 900’s (both classic and new generation), three 9000’s, and three 9-5’s including his current 2003 Laser Red 9-5 Aero Wagon that Brian just bought last week. As you can imagine, Brian’s knowledge of all Saab’s both new and old is nothing short of extraordinary. One of the most unique things about Brian that you rarely witness with any other service advisers is his willingness to get his hands dirty with our lead Saab technician, Jaime Guzman.
And that brings me to our next team member. Jaime (pronounced “Hi-may”) has been specializing in Saab and other European nameplates for over 15 years now, and is a Factory Certified Saab Technician. Having also worked with previous Bellevue and Seattle Saab dealerships, we were thrilled to be able to secure Jaime as part of our service center team. His intimate knowledge of all things Saab, both new and vintage, plus his easy-going manner make him a great resource for any Saab owner and a pleasure to deal with. We also enjoy taking full advantage of his incredible grilling skills when the barbeque comes out. Between work and his and his wife’s beautiful new baby girl, there is never a dull moment in Jaime’s day.
Last, but certainly not least, is our General Manager who is the one to be credited for pursuing the addition of Saab to the Park Place family. Ryan Vanderwel’s love affair with Saab started the day his neighbor brought home a new 900SPG. The first time he went for a ride in that car and felt the turbo spool, he was hooked for life. Ryan was not able to satisfy this addiction until he bought a 1997 900SE Coupe (the closest to a modern SPG at the time). Ryan says that it is still, to this day, the best all around car he has ever owned: “The hatchback made it more versatile than an SUV, it averaged 33 mpg on the hwy, cruised at 100mph all day without ever a complaint, tackled the worst weather that eastern Canada could throw at it, and all without any mechanical issues”. We have been a Spyker dealer since early 2007, during which time Ryan has had the pleasure to work closely with Victor Muller on many occasions. So when it came to light that Spyker was indeed going to be the new parent company to Saab, the phone call was promptly made, and Saab of Bellevue became a reality for the Park Place Motor Group. “I believed in him, his conviction and passion, and knew that he was a legitimate Saab enthusiast and would bring the company back to its roots. I am very excited for the future of Saab. That same feeling I got for Saabs during my first ride in the SPG is the same I feeling I get when I drive a NG 9-5 Aero”.
As you can see, Saab is not just another business opportunity to us. It’s much more than that. As people who follow their true passions in life, Saab of Bellevue is elated to embrace thePacific Northwest’s newest Saab headquarters.
In closing, we would all like to thank SaabsUnited for their consistently objective and accurate daily reports. We all count on Tim and his amazing SaabsUnited-Crew for the most up to date and relevant stories about Saab from around the world. Keep up the great work!
As with the last dealer profile, we invite dealers around the globe to send us your stories and introduce yourselves to the greater Saab community. Thank you Saab of Bellevue and Hunter Ross for your story.