Tuesday, May 03, 2011

It's 1989 all over again

When I started here in February of 1989, I soon learned that one of the staples at Charles River Saab was a newsletter, written quarterly, by then owner Felix Bosshard. They were simple fare—four pages of type, no pictures, elegantly written and with a recognizable format. There were always musings, information on employees, news about Saab product, service and parts specials, the announcement of drawing winners, and usually finished with a paragraph about Felix’s favorite diversions, professional tennis and the Boston Classical Orchestra.

I have kept as many of these as I could find. For a time, after Felix left, I was the publisher of the Charles River Saab newsletter, and the precedent issues were valuable to that endeavor. Over time, the simple, paper newsletter gave way to a glossy one with pictures and articles, and that gave way, well, to this blog.

This particular newsletter, dated March 15, 1989, will always be one of my favorites. First, it announced my arrival as the new Red Team ASM (Assistant Service Manager). Second, this is the newsletter that Felix handed me soon after I arrived to proof-read. As I have recounted on this blog before, I took to the task very seriously. I got a red pen and started marking up everything in sight. When I handed it back to Felix, seeing all the red markings (what was I thinking?!), he said, with his prominent Swiss-German accent, “Vat is all zis?” I told him that they were corrections, and explained that there were a lot a run on sentences, to which he replied, glaring at me, “I like run on zentences.”

There are other items of note in this newsletter. The only employee besides me who is mentioned who is still working here is Doug Bowles, and the “Cat” work mentioned has now migrated to me. Ricky Furlan, mentioned for his fifteen years of tenure, has since retired, but he has two sons, Rick Jr. and Jeff who have respectively been here a combined twenty seven years. Note that the lease program cited is a 66 month lease on a base 900 for $273! This newsletter also announced the start of our shuttle service—a suggestion from Jim Carfagno, who had started here in 1987.

I finally managed to find an OCR program to use on these, but on blogger I do have to sacrifice the formatting, so those who remember these newsletters may find that this doesn’t exactly look the same. It is also why I had to use such a small font—I’ll try to find a way around that for my next newsletter post.

Issue # 34; March 15th,1989
Telephone # 923-9230

Dear Friends,

Douglas Bowles, our resident operator of the big yellow Cat in the backyard, has
been visibly disappointed by the lack of snow this past winter. While I complain about the
cost of snow removal, the lack of space to operate with and the loss of customers during
snowstorms, Doug happily motors high on his favorite toy, scooping big buckets and
building snow castles. I almost feel guilty that this winter he had little chance to play; he
sat in the cab occasionally, revved the engine once or twice and sort of challenged the

For me, the best time of the year has arrived. I walk my backyard at home every
morning, I listen to the crocii pushing through the soil and I watch the leaves budding on
the trees. I then come to work and do the same thing here; I look around the showroom,
the shop and the parts department. I feel the tempo of the prospect traffic, the size of the
smiles on peoples faces and the number of cars in the yard. Then I sniff the air around
the place and decide that things look good. We are ready to blossom and to do great
things in ’89. Our goal, as always, is to be the best. We are getting mail (some good, some
bad) from our customers and we appreciate it when we have somebody take the time to
write; the feedback enters the loop and helps to improve the product.

For the past eight years, I have had a habit of describing the comings and goings
on the roster of our employees in somewhat graphic detail and I sometimes receive the
feedback through my readers that we have a fairly noticeable (!) turnover. This reminded
me to dig back into our books and it led to what will become an annual part of our
company Christmas dinner. The recognition, through a formal award ceremony, of our
longtime employees was in some instances much overdue and it now gives me great
pleasure to announce the recipients of this year’s Orrefors crystal vases. In the 10 year
category, we had three employees:

Alex McWilliam, Bill Gorman and Monica Bosshard

and for 15 years there are three more:
Douglas Bowles, Ricky Furlan and David Martin.

Some of these are well over the indicated threshold, some have left and returned, all are
much appreciated. There is another group of ten who are between three and ten years of
service, making up the core of our employees who moved with us from 20 Watertown St.
It is sometimes hard to remember that as little as 8 years ago, our total count was less
than 15 people.

Still in the personnel department we have to report with deep regret the passing
of two members of our extended family. Julie Aylaian, who had in a few short months
become a real part of us, was a victim of the freak ice storm just before Christmas and
Douglas’ wife, Mary, who lost a long battle with cancer at the end of January. With the
Aylaian family and all the Bowles’, we mourn their passing.

Donald Frazier, one of the above mentioned group of ten, also received an award
at our dinner, he is the first of our technicians to reach SAAB Master Mechanic status in
our new location. Several others are close on his heels. And finally there is the wonderful
news that Rose McWi1liam presented Alex with a daughter for Christmas. Gina McWilliam was born on December 23rd! Congratulations to all!

It is with regret that I have to report that Red Team ASM Mike Scott has left us.
His place has been filled by Pierre Belperron, a young man with considerable experience
as a service writer and substantial other qualifications. (i.e. Graduate of B.U. and Boston
Conservatory, Applied Music: Cello!)

So much for our personnel department; I will elaborate with more details in our
summer letter.

Sales has a whole bunch of items to report. First of all we have a couple of product
announcements. The promised "S" version of the 9000 CD is on its way, we will be able
to deliver the first CD-Ss somewhere around the middle of April and, while we are at it,
we will also start delivering the "Air-Bagged" versions of all 9000s. Now, clearly, is the time to take advantage of the remaining stock of non-bagged versions at their concomitantly lower prices. I would also like to remind you that SAAB-SCANIA Financial is very much alive and kicking and that the current lease programs are still extremely favorable; the present entry level 66 months lease on a 3-door, manual shift 900 is only $273.- plus tax (fees, insurance, excise and maintenance not incl.). Since this is a closed-end lease, it in effect establishes the resale value of the car and thus insulates you from the vagaries of the marketplace. It is, lastly, fair to say that the winter selling season was at very best lackadaisical and that Alex will do his level best to bring the numbers up to a more respectable level; it might well be that prices in the very near future could be substantially more competitive than later in the year. All things considered, early spring should be a very interesting period for buyers.

In order to make it easier for you to drop off your car in the morning, we have in
January instituted our new shuttle service. Between 7:30 and 9:00 A.M. we will drive you
to either Harvard Square to pick up the Red Line or to Watertown Square to the Express
Bus on a first come, first served basis. We cannot think of any reasonable way to organize
an evening pick-up, the bus (#70) from either Watertown Square or Central Square will
do a better job.

David would like to remind owners of ’86 and ’87 SAAB 9000’s to make sure they
don’t overlook the letter from Mr. Robert Sinclair, President of SAAB-Scania of America,
Inc., outlining the "SAAB 9000 Value Retention Program". The program addresses a
number of early teething problems in the 9000’s and is available for all ’86 and ’87 9000’s
regardless of current owner. If you are not familiar with the program, please check with
our Service Department.

To make doubly sure that spring really arrives and that we think flowers instead of
snow, David is offering the following

Spring Special:
Visual check of cooling system, tires, suspension and
undercarriage, oil and filter change plus re-installing your summer wheels.

(Don ’t forget to put your mounted summerwheels into your trunk! )

(For just another $10.95, we will even hand-wash the car.)
(Offer good ’til 4/30/89)

Over the last few years, many of you have met Ralph Skinder, our SAAB district
representative. Ralph, a true professional and also a good friend of ours, has decided to
accept a promotion to Sales Training Manager for the Eastern Region. We will miss
Ralph. His replacement, Larry Nay, comes to us from that other Swedish car; as he has
clearly seen the light, we won’t hold it against him. Welcome aboard, Larry! The other two members of the SAAB team in our district are Steve Olesnevich in Service and George
Kaniwec in Parts, both good mentors, both good friends.

It now gives me pleasure to announce the winners of our Christmas drawing. The
following people have received their vouchers:
lst Place $250.- Ms. Paula Del Orfano, Woburn
2nd Place $l00.- Ms. Ellen Tormey, Tyngsboro
3rd Place $ 50.- Mr. Michael Siegell, Cambridge
4th Place $ 50.- Mr. Richard Forrester, Wellesley

The next drawing will be announced in our Fall newsletter and will be known as the
"Half-Way" drawing as that date will be halfway between our 30th and our 35th

The only thing exciting out of the Parts Department is a set of wood veneer panels
Bill found in England. The "Winchester" is a trim set of burled elm that now graces the
dash and doors of my SPG and at the moment we are waiting to see what will happen
when the sun beats down on it. While the set with installation is not cheap, I think it is
absolutely gorgeous. Next time you are in, why don’t you take a look and give me your

The last concert of the Boston Classical Orchestra for the current season will be
given on Wednesday, March 29th and Friday March 31st, The season will come to an end
with a particularly nice all Mozart program featuring Tamara Smirnova-Sajfar, Associate
Concertmaster of the BSO and Concertmaster of the Boston Pops, performing the Violin
Concerto #5, K├ęcherlisting 219 under the baton of Harry Ellis Dickson. The concert, being
given as always in historic Faneuil Hall, will be rounded out with the Symphony #38 in D,
K. 504 ("Prague") and the Overture to "Cosi fan Tutte" K.588. Tickets can be ordered by
calling Ms. Quindara Dodge at 426-2387. (It would help if you mentioned this newsletter
as your inspiration?) As usual, we also have some free teaser tickets for first time
concertgoers, call Monica or our Sales Department for information.

Have a happy spring!

Yours as always,

Felix Bosshard

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