ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Stephen Roy, the newly installed president of North American sales and marketing for Mack Trucks, knows there’s work to be done.
Mack’s market share isn’t where he’d like it to be, and a recent focus on product and customer support has taken attention away from Mack as a brand. But he also feels the pieces are in place to revitalize one of the oldest brands in trucking. This effort will officially commence with a re-launching of the Mack brand at the ConExpo construction show in early March.
And you can also look for Mack to aggressively grow its on-highway presence.
“If we are going to improve share, we need to have a larger presence in the on-highway market,” Roy said today during a meet-the-press-type roundtable discussion with truck journalists.
The last five years have seen Mack dealers invest more than $300 million into their facilities to better serve customers. They’ve increased bay capacity by 40%, added 50% more technicians, and trained those technicians so that now one in four are top-certified Master Technicians. Dealers also have increased their hours of service, and 60% now forward after-hours calls to Mack’s call centre, so that customers can receive support around the clock.
Last year, Mack launched its GuardDog Connect remote diagnostics program, which allows Mack to remotely monitor engine fault codes and advise operators on the best course of action. Included in that service is dealership geofencing, which will notify Mack when trucks have been in the shop too long.
“With GuardDog Connect, we have a geofence around every one of our dealerships,” Roy said. “Starting this year, we’ll know when a truck comes into a dealership and when a truck leaves a dealership. To assist a dealer, we’ll call the dealer and say ‘We notice this truck is in, what can we do to help you get the product in and out the door as soon as possible’?”
Mack officials working out of a new three-storey Uptime Centre, to be built at the company’s Greensboro, N.C. campus, will be able to intervene when trucks are down for repair too long. This may mean directing them to a less busy dealership nearby or expediting delivery of the required parts. Later this year, Mack will also be teaming with Telogis and PeopleNet to stream its remote diagnostics data to those telematics providers, who will then convert the data into useful information for fleets.
“We’re never going to be the gurus of telematics, there are too many good companies doing that,” Roy said. “But since we put GPS on the trucks standard, we’re able to transmit this information to other companies to provide all the things fleets need from a productivity standpoint.”
Mack continues to be strong in the vocational segment, which has seen double-digit growth in each of the past few years. But its overall share of the North American Class 8 truck market remains just under 10%. Roy hopes to change that as early as this year.
“With our backlog and the amount of activity we see now, there’s no reason Mack can’t be above 10% this year, with a vision to being much greater than that,” Roy said.
Having spent the last five years bolstering its customer support, Roy said the time is right to make a push in the on-highway market.
“We’re known for our vocational side, but my focus is to make sure – because we now have the network support, which is key – that we get back in front of our customers and let them know we do have a value proposition for them,” Roy said. “The timing is right but it’s not going to happen overnight.”
Mack’s dealer network, meanwhile, is continuing to strengthen, with another 40 projects currently underway.
“Our dealers are re-investing and the company is re-investing in research and development for new product as well as for infrastructure and support,” Roy said. “We feel Mack is very well positioned with products, we’re continuing to invest in R&D and we’re well positioned with our dealer network.”
Roy cited the recent World of Concrete show as evidence the vocational truck market has been revitalized.
“The activity at World of Concrete was as high as we’ve seen since 2006,” he said. “Customers were not looking at two or three trucks, they were looking (to buy) 25-50 trucks, which is great…We’ve seen double-digit increases the last few years. Housing starts, GDP – everything points to improvements on the vocational side.”
Roy is projecting about 250,000 Class 8 truck sales this year in Canada and the US, which would represent a slight uptick in demand from 2013.
Roy demonstrated the passion and exuberance for the Mack brand that industry observers have come to expect from people holding senior positions at that company.
“I’m passionate about the Mack brand and where we can go,” he said. “I’m 50 and I plan to do this for the next 15 years.”
Asked what customers and industry observers can expect to see over the next year, he said “We’re going to execute better than we’ve ever done.”