As a sales manager at a Saab dealer in Canada, I have had the pleasure to meet through email some very great examples of dealers and managers in the US that seem to get what Saab is and needs to be. One such man is Darryl Carl and his story is anything but easy. We are working with Darryl from Albany Saab Shop who was formerly a 50 year Saab dealer at New Salem Saab to bring a story of determination and hard work to re create ones self. Many readers of SaabsUnited will remember Darryl Carl as a dealer that tried everything within his power to make things work in his part of the US. We celebrated with him when he his dealership hit the 50 year mark being one of the oldest dealers in America.
Shortly after reaching this milestone though, it was announced that New Salem Saab would be closing their doors forever. We all felt the pain of an owner who felt responsible for his staff and customers alike. New Salem had weathered the storm of the initial GM shut down of Saab and the start up of being an independent company with the ownership of Spyker as well as an economic down turn that plague the US and car dealers alike. I remember seeing post’s on SaabsUnited from Darryl talking about his new car pricing strategy of just over cost and service specials, it seemed like he and his dealership were willing to do whatever they could to get new customers and maintain their service customers. Through all of their struggles, Darryl for the most part stayed positive and never resorted to talking trash about a brand that was dear to his heart.
Enough of that sad talk though. Since that time Darryl has done anything but sit around and mope about losing New Salem Saab. He hasn’t turned his back on the brand. He has been very busy starting a new business and making sure he reaches all of his past clients to let them know that there is still a place to get your Saab servicing done. If New Salem was your Saab dealer and you were wanting to know how they are or where to take your Saab for regular servicing, give them a call or stop by to see them. We are all a part of this Saab community and need to let people like Darryl and his staff know that they are remembered and still a welcomed part of Saab. Check out their facebook page too, to see all of what they are up to. The following is a message that Darryl himself sent me for the Saab community.
Hello everyone. It’s been some time since I had an opportunity to write here for SU readers and quite frankly I was honored when the crew from SU invited me to do such. A lot has transpired since I last was able to post or be posted about. I appreciated the outcry of support and well wishes when times were catastrophic at New Salem Saab. I will touch on that situation however the main focus here is talk a little about transition of passion, refusal to let go, and a desire to continue to support the Saab brand even when no longer being a “franchised dealer” became reality. The entire New Salem Saab story is a book I’d like to write. That will come in the future and hold some very amazing content and insight as to the rise and fall of a franchised family business. Among the Saab enthusiasts, it should be a best seller!
New Salem Saab, original dealer code 0069 is lost but not forgotten. In fact, in a way it had offspring. That offspring is Albany Speed Shop, Inc. a.k.a. Albany Saab Shop. You see this all started back when GM began to collapse. Dragging Saab down with it or more frankly shoving us under water and using us as a floatation device so they could continue to breath, I had some serious choices to make for the company and its employees. This is back when Konigsegg was in the game cutting dealers and then ultimately cutting off the deal. So the endless discussions ensued as to what to do. The final decision was to try to incorporate additional profits centers into the operation for the sole purpose of keeping the doors open at breakeven and praying Saab would rebound rapidly.
As many of you know, I am a racing enthusiast. As a driver and builder our scope of experience and abilities was very broad. Our team collectively is very talented. Over the years we have traversed many roads in racing and business ventures. This gave us a sound footing in our market to expand the service operation. We added services like Scaling, performance alignments, welding services, fabrication services and many crossover services. This rapidly assisted the bottom line, but as it turned out only extended the praying time. However, in hindsight what was accomplished was name branding by association as New Salem Saab and Albany Speed Shop were referenced together in the community. Even before the realization of the inevitable was to occur, my wife opened her own company called Albany Speed Shop, Inc. During the entire Saab saga Melissa and I kept the employees informed as to the position of the dealership. When the end did arrive there were no surprises and plan B was turned on.
My wife and I, God bless her, had continuous, exhausting, gut wrenching, emotional conversations about the future that lye before our family. When we found the common denominator we had a choice between two paths. Go to work for someone else or take the road less traveled and go into business again ourselves. On August 12, 2011 New Salem Saab closed its doors. On October 10, 2011 Albany Speed Shop, Inc. opened its doors. Ironically back in Voorheesville across town from where the original New Salem Garage, Inc a.k.a. New Salem Saab had its own humble origins.
Just days before we closed, I was completely exhausted, mentally and physically – drained to the point of anger and frustration. The pressures were at an all time high and I felt a huge responsibility to entities inside and outside of my personal circle. They included my family, my employees and their families, the people and entities which helped support New Salem Saab and of course Saab itself. The burden I put on myself was enormous. It was ridiculous. Those self imposed responsibilities needed a release. The release as most things happen was found by accident on a whim in an instant of luck. You see the economy is so poor commercial property and buildings are available everywhere. So much so that property owners are hiring brokers to find tenants. Ours brought us a few locations. All of them were in the wrong location, too big, to small etc etc…. I couldn’t find a location suitable for plan B. One day I jumped into Craigslist and clicked on commercial property. Scrolling down the ads I see a small unsuspecting ad in all lower case. “for lease, 7500sf warehouse, zoned industrial, Voorheesville.” Now I have lived in New Salem all of my life. New Salem is a neighboring Hamlet of the Village of Voorheesville in the Town of New Scotland. Bottom line – I have lived in Voorheesville all for my 41 years. To my knowledge, there is no such building or else I would know about it. I was wrong. We visited the facility that night on the way home and the next day Melissa and I met with the owner at lunch. The hand shake was made and the work began.
As Jason and the crew will show you, we started basically with a shell. We hand built everything. Who hand built everything? This is the best part! The remaining employees of New Salem Saab, the owner of the property and I constructed and assembled the entire operation from scratch in about 60 days. Our team is so strong that the core employees decided to help us assemble the new operation AND accept an employment arrangement with Melissa. Yep! That means the same group of guys that were at New Salem in the end are now at Albany Speed Shop, Inc. We are short two great men from the team at this time for different and understandable reasons for the situation. I do plan, if able, to reach out to them as soon as it’s rational to do so. They are an important part of our team. Aside from the same crew at Albany Speed Shop, Inc., Melissa was able to purchase back some key items at the New Salem Saab auction – mainly the Entire Special Tool Room. She got 98% of what Albany Speed Shop, Inc. needed to continue to properly service and maintain your Saab. Way above that of the average independent facility who may work on Saabs in our local area. So a combination of the same employees and all of the Saab special tools poises Albany Speed Shop, Inc a.k.a. Albany Saab Shop to continue to support the Saab brand and its enthusiasts in a way no one else can!
How can you contact us? The most updated and active communications are through FaceBook at Albany Speed Shop as well as Twitter also at Albany SPEED Shop. Please Like and follow both of those social media portholes please!
For The Saab enthusiast we have an Albany SAAB Shop Facebook page and Twitter account as well. Please Like and Follow both of these social media portholes as well please.
Our blog style websites are just as easy. www.albanySPEEDshop.com and www.albanySAABshop.com. Of course you can snail mail us as 129 School Road, Voorheesville, NY 12186 or Phone us at 1-518-765-7700.
I am an active SU reader. Everyday, several refreshes! Although I have more stories for another day I would like to again thank the SU crew and all of its members for support us and the Saab brand. No matter what happens you must adhere to the fact that Saab will never go away in your hearts or your minds. Because of this whole scenario, Saab is truly a permanent part of our lives.
Darryl and Melissa Carl &
The Albany Speed Shop, Inc. Team