KIRKLAND, Wash. – “It’s good to be back in Seattle,” avowed Kenworth Truck Company’s recently-appointed general manager Mike Dozier during an editors’ event Aug. 12 from his new office in Kirkland, Wash.
Dozier, who is also vice-president of Paccar, returned to US soil in April 2016 following a three-year stint Down Under as the managing director of Paccar Australia, where the 28-year Paccar veteran said he learned a great deal about the company and its customer base.
“Short from my first year, it was the first time in my career where essentially everything was new,” Dozier said of when he initially arrived in Australia. “It was new customers, new dealers (and) from a supply base, it’s all new contacts, so that was an opportunity to really learn, so my approach was that I spent a lot of time on the road.”
Through his travels, Dozier said he came to realize just how large the country of Australia really was; essentially the same size as the continental US, but with a fraction on the population.
“That scale and population density,” he said, “you begin to understand how the transport industry had evolved in Australia in comparison to North America.”
Though he said ‘road trains’ do exist in Australia, they are not the predominant mode of commercial vehicle transportation in the country.
“Multi-combinations, doubles and triples are very prevalent,” Dozier explained, “and you begin to understand why, with the low population and mass distances to cover with a road infrastructure that is good, but not as developed by any means as what we have in the US and lower portions of Canada.”
With the predominance of doubles and triples, Dozier said hiring practices in Australia is a bit different from back home, as drivers need to be more ‘highly trained’ to drive the common 65-90 metric ton B-doubles.
From December 2004 to August 2008, Dozier was Kenworth’s chief engineer, and as an engineer, said he is pretty passionate about the product.
“I like trucks and I always have and so it’s an opportunity to really get in and understand how transport companies run their businesses a little bit differently,” he said of his time in Australia.
While an engineer with Kenworth, and prior to his departure for Australia, Dozier worked on the project that resulted in the release of the company’s T680 and T880 models, which have become such popular vehicles for Kenworth that it announced it would cease production of the admired T660 truck at the end of 2016.
“It’s not often in a career in this industry you get to see an entirely new product platform come to life,” Dozier said. “The growth of those products to essentially 80% of what we build today, being those 680 and 880 platforms…it’s something we are very proud of.”
Asked about the attitude Down Under compared to North America when it comes to the acceptance and availability of new technologies, Dozier said with 16 heavy duty manufacturers selling in the country, the vast majority not only provide similar technological options as in the US and Canada, despite not having as dense a population, but offer a larger pool of choices.
“The major players in all markets are there with their heavy duty products,” Dozier said. “So what you see is a more of a comparison and assessment of technologies…so it is arguably one of the most competitive markets in the world.”
Speaking about matters closer to home, Dozier said the outlook for the company looks stable.
“We came off of 2015, it was a big production year for everybody…the fleet is as new as it’s been in a long, long time,” he said. “We had some softening of the economy and I don’t think we’ll see any radical changes there, but I think we’ll see 2017 being a continuation of 2016 as we normalize those numbers of new versus used.”
With revenue so far of $8.7 billion, Dozier said he feels good about the first half of the year, which capped off 111 years for Paccar of ‘very superior performance’ and the 77th year of net profit.
“I think we’re certainly looking at 2016 as a good year,” he said, “but requiring more focus than perhaps last year did. With the year overall, we’re looking at a good year. Certainly things have come off slightly since last year, but from a standpoint when we look at the metrics, fundamentals, GDP growth through the second quarter, we do have growth…we have an economy that continues to grow.”
Dozier earned a mechanical engineering degree from Texas A&M University, as well as a graduate degree in management from Stanford University. He began his career with Paccar in 1988 as an associate design engineer, received his professional engineer license in 2004 and completed Stanford’s executive program in 2006.
He was also assistant general manager of operations for Peterbilt Motors Company for five years in Denton, Texas.
A university graduate with a degree in English, I have worked in the media industry as an editor, reporter and now as editor of Truck West. I have several years of management experience in journalism, as well as hospitality, but am first and foremost a writer, both professionally and in my personal life, having completed two fiction novels.
@DerekClouthier All posts by Derek Clouthier