Heartbreak at Saab

Saab Factory

I sat in on a communal phone call with colleagues from Saab in Sweden this evening and it really was a heartbreaker. I won’t share the content of the call. It really is incidental to almost all who will be reading this and those who need to know will either have been listening, or will sit in on similar calls with their own people (if they haven’t already).

The big takeaway from the phone call was the real heartbreak of this whole situation. I’ve been back in Australia since early November and I didn’t realise how much I missed all of my workmates until this evening. Hearing their voices on the other end of the line really drove home the fact that we will most likely not be working together, ever again.

We had some incredible people in this group, people who had had great careers already with some big household-name companies. People who had left those companies to come and work with Saab Automobile. They made the move because they wanted the same thing I wanted – to be part of a great experience, doing great things with a great car company. We were free, we were unfettered. We were like Cosmo Kramer going commando….. “out there, baby, and loving every minute of it!”

We had a genuine chance, too. We had everything in place except for two of the things that we needed the most – adequate finance and cooperation from certain stakeholders. I guess if we had the first, we wouldn’t have needed the second so much. But even the second on its own could have helped to deliver the first.

These people, these fantastic, talented, wonderful people, will all land on their feet again, I’m sure. They’re too good to be left hanging in the breeze. It’s just that tonight, it’s really hurting to have to accept the idea that we won’t get the chance to execute the program that we were developing to promote the outstanding products we had coming down the pipeline. It hurts even more because it was all so avoidable.

I’ll be heading back to Sweden soon, to pack up some things and see as many people as I can. It’s going to be hard, but wonderful all at the same time.

Tonight’s one of those nights where you want to line up all the people responsible for this situation and give them a good, swift size 12 in the mid-section. What they’ve taken away is a tragedy for everyone involved – workers, colleagues, families, customers, dealers, the people of Trollhattan and others in the industrial sector in Western Sweden. It reaches further than you think and touches people deeper than you can imagine.

2011 really sucked, didn’t it?

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  1. Yes, 2011 truly sucked donkey’s balls.

    But there were some high notes as well. Our mini-roadtrip together in June was fun, despite the satnav’s affection for strange roads in the middle of nowhere.

    Thanks to Victor and everyone at Saab, I had the opportunity to buy the car of my dreams. Though Saab might disappear now, I will keep my 9-5 around for as long as I possibly can. I still remain hopeful, but am trying not to set myself up for a big disappointment.

  2. < …the industrial sector in Western Sweden

    The thing I don't get is why Western Sweden, or all of Sweden, just didn't care that much to support (i.e.) bail out Saab financially or, well, again, even care.

    Having lived there Swade, do you have any sense as to why this is? Why not Occupy GL's office, or take back the EIB? Why no Saab employee rallies or protests outside Opel offices. Why no visible passion?

  3. Interesting to read what you have written but what have you found out that the rest of us haven’t ? I like you, work or did work at Saab and today we got our letters from the lawyers and it was heartbreaking to get. I have been there for 25 years, i have an awful lot to be grateful for because of that but what did your meeting say for you to be so definite about our future, or no future as the case may be.

  4. Indeed, 2011 sucked in soooo many freakin’ ways. Had some s**t to go through in my private live as well. Oh how much I hope for 2012 that certain things start working for once… The whole Saab case has been a mirror for so many other issues that occurred – still I feel for all the brave Saab people at THN and elsewhere. It can only become better, right?

  5. This is sad.Really sad. What could and should have been will never be. But I have had 16 fantastic years with Saab and will never forget the passion nor the people working there. Such a fantastic brand. Things will never be the same. No matter what.

  6. Welcome back Steven =) , I’m supporting the SAAB Worldwide event @ Just SAAB in Ohio , I’ve invited all my frieds and hope to have a good turn out . AJ Murphy has posted the particulars on Just SAAB’s site , it will be on the 14th .

  7. Yeas its really sad.
    I could never in my worst nightmare, belive that Saab could come to end and go under, I’m thinking of all fantasti’c people and true passion for cars including my family that have been around since ursaaben. But in my heart and a bunch of others, Saab will never go down completely, but sad is that it will never be as it was. I hope I will get a chance in future to strike back hard.
    Revenge is a strong driver, we will be back one day :).

  8. Steve,

    Thank you very much for your kind words and your articles that inspired us over the years.
    We will always remember your fantastic engagement through Saabsunited when you managed to wake up basically the whole world and get peoples sympathy and support regardless they were Saab owners or not.
    I still recall when people said that “if you want to know what’s going on please read the news from Steven, he is professional . The newspaper is just bullshit and full of crap”
    Steve, you gave all of us at Saab strenght when we needed it and I’m really grateful for that. Just sad that we didn’t get the chance to take Saab into the future.
    ………………………but, like some successful movies, the Saab saga part 2 might be out soon :-)….we never give up!

  9. While the situation for Saab began to decline shortly after your arrival at the position look at it this way. You have done things, seen things and talked to people the rest of us only daydream of doing. You were part of something really great and God willing , will be great again.