RICK KRANZ

For one dealer, some post-Saab ‘boredom' would be nice

Automotive News | December 20, 2011 - 3:45 pm EST

The news of Saab's liquidation was only a few hours old, but dealer Bernie Moreno already was planning his next step.

He was also laughing -- an amazing reaction considering there's $5 million in new Saab inventory sitting on his lot.

"We will repurpose our building," said Moreno, dealer principal of Saab of North Olmstead, in North Olmstead, Ohio. "We will probably have it done in the next two, three weeks."

All of the Saab signage will be removed.

The building was constructed in March 2010, he says, creating "a beautiful Saab facility."

"The reality is we built this building knowing in the back of our mind …," he said, pausing. "I always tell my kids, a good entrepreneur has Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, you know.

"When we built that building we knew there was always the possibility that Saab wouldn't …," he said, pausing again. "We never thought it would go to this, obviously.

"But we knew there was a possibility that Saab would not be as successful as it needed to be. So we have the ability to repurpose that building very inexpensively and we will do that," he said during an interview with my colleague, Leslie J. Allen.

Moreno is president of the Collection Auto Group in the Cleveland area. In addition to Saab, the group sells Acura, Buick, Fisker, GMC, Infiniti, Lotus, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Smart, Sprinter and Spyker vehicles. The dealership group employs 240, of which six were dedicated to Saab. Those six employees will be placed in other jobs within the organization.

Moreno said the No. 1 issue is selling off inventory -- 110 new Saabs worth about $5 million, he told me.

"I think all of the Saab dealers around the country are thinking the same thing. The last thing I think that anybody wants to do is panic and there is no thought on how they dispose of the vehicles," he said. The auto group is working on a plan.

The No. 2 issue is warranty: How will repairs be handled?

As for the Saab facility, it soon will transform into a showroom for pre-owned, certified Mercedes-Benz vehicles. It will be located across the street from the Mercedes-Benz new-car showroom.

Moreno, commenting on the turmoil in the auto industry during the past few years, said: "It is just another interesting chapter in the car business."

"It would be great if the car business didn't become so interesting over the next two years," he added with a hearty laugh.

"I'm hoping for a little boredom."

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive NewsRick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News

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