Saab Cars USA Inc. has named Richard O'Kelley vice president of sales.
He fills the vacancy created by the departure of General Motors veteran John Orth. Orth transferred to GM's Atlanta regional sales office after Saab Cars USA Inc. CEO Joel Manby left Saab in April to become president of Internet auto marketer Greenlight.com.
GM owns parent Saab Automobile AB of Sweden. Manby and Orth joined Saab in 1996 from Saturn Corp., where Manby was a regional manager and a former dealer, and Orth was in charge of consumer marketing.
O'Kelley, 50, will report to Dan Chasins, president and COO. O'Kelley is responsible for U.S. sales and distribution, including achieving Saab's annual sales objectives for cars, parts and accessories.
Based on GM-derived replacements for the present 9-3 and 9-5, plus a hybrid sport-utility, Saab expects to double its worldwide volume in the next five years to about 250,000 cars annually. U.S. sales are expected to grow almost as much in the same period, from an estimated 40,500 this year.
Previously, O'Kelley was director of retail network development. Saab thinned its dealer ranks from 1994 to 1999 in favor of bigger, exclusive dealers. Like Saturn, the same dealer may have multiple points in the same market. Saab had 325 dealers in 1994, but has only 208 today. At the same time, annual sales per dealer have grown from about 76 units to about 195.
Along with O'Kelley's appointment, Saab also reorganized its sales department to split responsibility for sales and distribution, which had been together under Orth. 'We have a lot of product coming, and that's going to put a strain on our existing setup,' O'Kelley said.
Reporting to O'Kelley are Gordon Wolter, 58, and Heather Stewart, 36. Wolter was named director of distribution and vehicle management, responsible for distribution, volume planning and car administration. Stewart was appointed director of sales operations, responsible for sales program development, commercial fleet programs, international and diplomatic sales and used-car programs.
O'Kelley began his career with Saab in 1992 as a district sales manager. Before that he was vice president and general manager of Menard Enterprises, a Rhode Island dealer group. He also spent three years with Toyota Motor Distributors Inc. and nine years with Ford Motor Co.