UPDATE – I’ve re-worded the headline so it’s somewhat less scary. Please note that Charles River Saab’s service personnel will be moving their Saab Service work to Boston Volvo, nearby.
I only got to know a few dealers well during my time writing about Saab. The one that I probably got to know the best – Charles River Saab – is hosting a farewell open day this weekend to mark the closing of their Watertown business after 55 years.
I got to know Charles River Saab when the Service Manager, Pierre Belperron, invited me to Boston to attend their annual Swedish Car Day event, back in 2010. Whilst Pierre and I had exchanged a few emails prior to me getting there, I really didn’t know what to expect when I landed in Boston. What I encountered there was a dealership and staff that epitomised the heartbeat of a vibrant Saab community.
For nearly everyone at CRS, Saab wasn’t just their business, Saab was a key part of their lives. Many of them had given decades of service to the brand and forged friendships with co-workers and customers that will last a lifetime. Several of them didn’t just own current model Saab cars leased on a convenient staff deal – they owned classic, immaculate Saab cars.
I spent most of my Boston time with Pierre from CRS and Dan from State of Nine and for a guy who lives on the other side of the world, it was a fantastic introduction to the depth and intensity of the north-eastern US Saab scene. You couldn’t meet two more dedicated guys if you tried. What made it all the more amazing for me was seeing the commute that Pierre would travel each day to get to work (he lives in a neighbouring state), sometimes arriving in the wee hours in order to clear snow from the CRS lot before any of the other staff arrived during the winter. Dedication personified.
And of course, what made my time with Pierre and the folks at CRS all the more memorable is the fact that they’re not just dedicated Saab people, they were all absolutely excellent people in themselves. Warm, friendly, genuine, intelligent, capable, interesting and very hospitable.
Pierre has for some time been the author behind the Charles River Saab blog. This week, he’s penned an article looking back at the history of the dealership and profiling some of the key people involved with the outfit. It’s recommended reading.
That Saab dealers are closing is a sad, but inevitable fact of the current situation. I guess it brings things home for me a bit more when I hear about it from a dealership that involves some genuine friends of mine, people I’ve spent time with, had dinner with, etc. This is the personal side of what’s happening in the Saab family.
This Saturday, the doors at Charles River Saab will be wide open to welcome visitors, current and former customers and staff, and anyone else who wants to drop by and say hello.
The open house will run from 5pm to 8pm on Saturday afternoon.
I know that for many Saab fans in the region, this weekend will be taken up by Saabs @ Carlisle. If you’re not heading there, however, I’d encourage you to drop in and say hello/goodbye/thankyou to the folks at Charles River Saab.
NOTE: A contingent of service staff from CRS will be moving to Boston Volvo at 75 North Beacon Street, Brighton, another of the Village Automotive Group’s dealerships