Comment: Life at Saab this week

One thing’s for sure around here: Life next week is not going to be the same as life this week.

Over the last four months, and especially in the last few weeks, I have come to develop an even deeper respect for the people I now have the privilege of calling colleagues – my fellow Saab employees.

It’s been a tough time here and I’ve faced my own personal challenges as part of that, but I’ve come to realise that I’m surrounded by veterans who have endured plenty of challenges in the past. Some of those challenges have lasted months, some years (heck, if they survived two decades inside GM’s decision matrix, they can survive anything).

More tests are to come this week.

As I write this, we are awaiting the release of our parent company’s mid-year financial reports, which will be published this afternoon. I have no doubt that there will be another outpouring of damaging headlines for Saab as a result of those reports. What else could one expect after spending almost half of that six-month period without making any cars? Whatever rare nuggets of optimistic news might be in those reports, the factory stoppage will most likely dominate the bottom line and the consequences will dominate the headlines here.

As with previous media outrages over management fees, executive pay and dealership loyalty, these headlines will prove to be a current-day outrage based on historical data. I don’t mean to downplay the severity of the results, but we’re already living with the effects of our first six months activity, right now.

No. Financial reports are not what’s foremost in my mind this week. In fact, the financial reports are not even on my personal radar. What’s important right now is the next 36 hours or so.

This week we have a hard, tight deadline from our employees’ unions. Our management team must find money for wages and salaries or the unions are likely to commence actions in the Swedish courts. This is a fast-closing situation and one that has real and immediate consequences.

I wrote a few weeks ago about the fact that our leadership have been working tirelessly on deals to get this company through the short term liquidity crisis that we face. We have long-term deals in place that we’re very confident about, but we need a short-term bridge to get us to those deals. That’s what they’ve been working on and that’s what will continue to be prominent in most Saab employees’ minds in the coming days.

I’ve still been at my desk every day because there have still been things to write about every day. The people I see here are concerned about the future, for sure, but there’s still a sense of camaraderie here – a shared sense of purpose and determination. Despite the troubles of recent times, people still believe in this company, our raison d’être and our growing product program. Some are taking steps to investigate options for the future. Such measures make sense at times like these. But the vast majority are hanging in there because they want to be part of Saab’s success.

So. Tonight we’ll all hunker down. I know the news will be poor and I know that much will be made of this in the media. I also know that in the overall scheme of things, it’s nowhere near as important as what has to come in the next few days.

As I said at the beginning. Either way, life next week will not be the same as life this week.

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    1. I’m OK.  Personally speaking, I remain as optimistic about this company’s prospects as I’ve always been and for the same reasons – belief in what we build and what we’re going to build.

  1. I will go and buy a bottle of champagne today after work. Hopefully it will be of the right temperature by tomorrow!

  2. It is rare to see such a commitment, I sincerely hope life will be different next week with a sound bridge to the future.

    Hang in there guys!

  3. Life next week will not be the same…. it will be much better ….. I am confident

    Griffin Up !!!

  4. So Steven , what will happen in the 36 coming hours according to you ? Your post is quite mysterious 🙂

      1. I am a true Griffin by surname from Melbourne Australia and fingers crossed Saab sort out there woes & looking forward to purchasing the Saab brand in the future. I have 07 9.3 V6 Aero at 130,000k & love that car!!
        Also have a 98 9000 Aero with 380,000k and this great reliable car has never had any major work…all original…so fingers crossed Steven that all will be ok next week and we move forward into the Griffin future…I work for another great Griffin from Sweden….SCANIA!
        Regards Shane Griffin.

  5. Hang in there guys! Please know that there is a large band of the Saab faithful praying and hoping that that bridge is about to be opened and that we can all look forward to a bright and propserous future for Saab!
    Griffin Up! Cuore Sportivo!

  6. Hur vore det om ni såg till att bygga bilar som majoriteten vill ha. Att några gamla gubbar kommer åkandes i gamla tvåtaktare och 9000 kommer inte locka nya kunder till märket.

    1. Jag försåt att du inte får några svar på dina kommentarer och egentligen vill jag inte svara heller men kan inte låta bli.
      Hur vore det om du tog dig tid att ta reda på någon som helst fakta innan du uttalar dig?
      Tyvärr gör du dig bara till åtlöje här när du kommer med kommentarer som inte har ett dugg med sidan att göra eller är fruktansvärt dåligt faktabaserade.
      I denna kommentaren så misstänker jag att du uttalar dig om Oktoberfesten och den har inget med denna sidan att göra, för det är Entusiaster som håller i det, om du vet vad det är och de är på
      ‘Gamla gubbar’ .. tsss..

    2. It is disturbing to see that people like you choose to spent your precious time spreading negativity. Have you ever considered using your time on a car brand you actually like?

    3. Såg du den unga designchef som hyrdes? Är du uppmärksam, eller bara letar efter någonstans att klaga?Jason Castriota s nya design kommer att tilltala yngre demografi.

    4. Pinsamt, vad yrar du om, skärp dig. Det är så man blir förtvivlad över att vuxna människor tänker och skriver som ett barn. Förlåt du kanske tyckte du skrev något roligt!

  7. After 35 years of providing service for SAAB cars I cant think of anything else I’ll be doing for the next 36 hours  or 10 more years , I’ll still provide the best service I can. Don’t get me wrong I like others am waiting on the best news for this brand . Long ago I just decided I like SAAB cars , the inovation , the drive , the thought of what is produced . I whould like to see an entry level product for the market , it whould be a great fit , but we do need a company to continue for all this to keep going forward . Yes  I’ll keep providing service as if it were my car every owner wants great service after the sale . Two SAABs I work on are at 500,000 miles and still going , same engine , trans , etc. that alone speaks volumes for the brand and how long after the sale goes on . 300 service customers that do value what we do
    Dave, Columbus Ohio, USA . Thanks SAAB cars Be Well =)  

  8. I’m not good at playing Pollyanna. I wish that I could sometimes, and this is one of them.  

    I’m confident that things will work out for some and not for others in this whole mess.  I hope that the good guys win.  

    I’ve never hidden my distaste for labor unions and their ruthless demands, treating management and corporate owners with disdain and mistrust.  In the end, their greed often surpasses those that accuse of the same crime.  That’s my view of American labor unions.  I hope that in Sweden things are different, but I suspect that the end game will be the same as it would be here — mutual destruction.  The unions could end up destroying themselves by bringing Saab into court.  I’ll never understand that mentality.

    On the other hand, I’m sure that it’s been a long period without pay for these folks, and I’m sure they’d like to be paid.  I see that.  I just don’t see why they need to be paid now at the potential expense of all future employment.  Short-term thinking.  I’m sure that they are saying that it’s been months, etc. and that the patience must run out sometime.  Perhaps they are right on that, but the union actions are very possibly the straw that will break the camel’s back.

    1. I can see where you’re coming from, Eggs.  Sometimes it’s the local mentality and some times it’s the system.  Monthly pay periods don’t help, either, as it’s a long time between drinks.

  9. Swade, it almost sounds as if you expect the unions to push for bankruptcy and that “The Deal” will not come through in time. Am I reading your post correctly?  Why are you expecting next week to be so dramatically different.  Let us in on your insight.

    1. Curt, if a deal doesn’t come through that can pay wages, then the unions have the option of pushing for bankruptcy.  They may or may not do so in quick time.  Of course, they will want to see Saab remain, but they also have an obligation to their members to assist with the collection of wages/salaries.

      Next week – either we’ll have a deal done that makes union action unnecessary, or we’ll be under immediate threat of a court action from the union.  It has to fall one way or the other.

      1. Yes, but is my understanding correct that after that request the company has 3 weeks to actually pay?

        1. I think Saab has only one week to pay after the different unions request that the wages are paid. That means that the wage payment to the member of the first union which requested payments last Friday, must be done before this Friday afternoon. If no payment has been done, then the union has 3 weeks to file for bankruptcy. If they file for bankruptcy within these three weeks, the Swedish state will guarantee the wage payments. But the members of the union needs their wages to live and the union will thus likely file for bankruptcy within shortly. 

  10. Swade, more than anything else in your post, I detect a profound sense of sadness. I can not imagine the emotions that you are dealing with right now. Just know that we, your loyal readers are here for you.

  11. Hey Swade, just came in after doing a radio interview for Dutch radio about Saab. We got a platform for us to voice our support and optimism. The same reporter that followed us during the Saab Festival invited us back. It will be aired tomorrow morning and is a small and simple gesture of support.

    Hang in there matey, all will be okay. It isn’t an easy ride I am sure. But remember you all, whether in Trollhattan or wherever in the world, be it at the factory or at a dealership, have our committed support. Griffin Up and let’s get this thing going.

    Let’s all do what we can to counteract the bad journalism, the negativity and show what we stand for.

    (off my soapbox now) 😉

  12. I can’t add anything to this thread but I feel I have to voice my support for you Swade and for all of the dedicated Saab employees. It’s maddening to me that investors have been there all along but haven’t been allowed in because of government/bank bureaucracy.

  13. Sure wish I could think of something really encouraging to say.

    ‘I care. A lot’.
    (best I can do…)

  14. No matter what happens in the next 36 hours there will still be 2 Saabs sitting in my garage and I will still be 100%Saab. It would make it a lot easier for me to buy a new Saab in the future for Saab to restart the production line. Just a thought. Best wishes.

    1. we have 3 in our driveway and garage (2 drivers – 2 hatchbacks + 1 convertible) – we are hoping…..

  15. I’ts obvious the purpose of the saab plant is not to build cars but to build a farm of two legged radioactive cockroaches. 

  16. Steven, Maybe it’s not about the next 36 hours (25 left) anymore? Unions are giving management the weekend to get financing?

    1. I don’t think the Unions are going to act as soon as they’re legally able.  They have no express desire to bring Saab down (quite the contrary) but I guess you could say the axe starts swinging from later this afternoon and the legal mechanism is available to them at that time.

  17. As a Saab person, I am so frustrated.  I can’t add anything more to the thread except my hope that something works out.  I can’t help but put this at the door of GM, they never gave Saab the design support it needed then, the Saabs from the late 00’s look like cheap Chevies, and offered little more than that.  We are all hoping for the best, we are 2 drivers with 3 Saabs, including my little 96 convertible, the mileage on all 3 cars is well over 500k total – I’d like to know anyone who got that on any GM car.

    1. I think my father got 200,000 miles plus each on two of his Buicks and my daughter currently has 150,000 miles on a 2003 Buick. My daughter lives in Daytona Beach and has no Saab dealership in town. I usually buy tires for her Buick every 50,000 miles. My father was a 30 year GM retiree. My local dealership sells Saab, Chevrolet, and Buick. I don’t know any Chevy that looks like a Saab and I’m usually on the lot about once per week including two days ago. I usually don’t keep my new cars that long for say 100,000 miles, but it’s nice to know that I could if I wanted to. Tomorrow is my 2008 9-3 3 year anniversary. Does not mean I would not buy a new Saab tomorrow if I wanted. 

      1. My Saabs have never had a major repair – tires, brakes, etc. – but never a major repair – I drove GM products – Chevies, Cadillacs, and Pontiacs for 30+ years, I know the repair records they had – they don’t come close to Saab.  It’s also interesting that I had a client who was all the way up in GM a few years ago, and he could have had any car for his family members – they all drove Saabs – his wife, daughter and he drove Saabs.

        1. You missed the point. It’s not how many Saabs you own. It’s how many Saabs you can buy. You can’t change history, so why argue the past. 

          1. You missed the point – there will never be another car like Saab – it has to make it – There isn’t anything close out there – my friend has a high priced Japanese car and said her ex-husband was less trouble. 

    2. Your remarks are ill fated, and couldnt be further from the truth.  GM is not the GM of the eighties and nineties, but you obviously havent been in a GM product in the last 2-3 yrs.  The Cruze while on the cheapest platform for Chevrolet is also a contender for quality and reliability, as well as alot of the latest technology in automobiles today for the price.
      I love SAAB and the brand, but dont underrate GM s as a company, they work very hard and the people are very dedicated to Engineering and Styling.  The Cadillac V series are incredible in the performance engine race circuit now.  And for the money Chevrolet Corvette is the best deal for the money in any performance car PERIOD.  

      1. Good – you drive them – my Cadillac was the worst of the cars I have driven – I am not interested in what GM might be –  I will never drive one again.   If Saab does not  survive, and I hope it does, then I will be looking to other European brands.  I am not alone – we had dinner with several friends last night who believe the same way. 

        1. I was informed by a friend today that she would probably be buying a car tomorrow. I told her about “the mileage on all 3 cars is well over 500k total”. She took note. Now we will see if she buys a new Saab. There are no used Saabs for sale in Lubbock which is the opposite of Dallas with no new Saabs for sale. By the way she is not the type of person to buy GM. So, don’t worry.

          1. we’ll see – the interesting thing was I wanted a Saab from the time I first rode in one, many years ago when I was in graduate school.  I paid cash for my first one in 2002 (a demo with 4k miles), when I went back to the GM dealer and he told me I could get a brand new Cadillac for the same price I would have paid for the Saab, and the cadillac was so much bigger.  I realized that my job depends on my  driving all over the state, I did not need a “bigger” car, and I wanted what I wanted when I was back in the days of possibilities.  My new granddaughter was 250 miles away, and I needed a car that would let me commute.  I love my Saabs, drove the convertible today, and this blonde grandmother got cougar looks in the convertible. We are hoping for the best.

  18. I remain optimistic but I am so tired of this uncertainty, news coverage and speculation.  It’ll be good to know one way or another if there is a future for the company or not.