Truck suppliers need global reach, Paccar exec says

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Paccar’s business success – a record that includes 69 consecutive profitable years – requires world-class global part and component suppliers that are as committed to reducing product complexity and increasing quality as Paccar itself, President Tom Plimpton told suppliers at the annual Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association breakfast, held at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky.

Paccar is the parent company of the Kenworth, Peterbilt and DAF truck brands as well as numerous other branded service, support and finance offerings. “Paccar has a vested interest in supporting good suppliers in increasing capacity, productivity and quality,” Plimpton said.

Plimpton shared that Paccar’s secret as it enters its 103rd year as a business is the willingness to make necessary investments in all the areas that matter. Nowhere are those investments more critical than in technology, where Paccar is recognized as a leader, he said. “Technology isn’t something we try to add on. It’s who we are and what we do.” Plimpton challenged the supplier community: “Are you investing in people and facilities and products and – most important – technology?”

Paccar’s expectations from its suppliers include, among others, global capabilities with local support, market-leading technology, exclusive and proprietary products, a commitment to reduced product complexity, aftermarket support, and design collaboration and integration.

Paccar also expects its suppliers to be financially strong, Plimpton said. “Paccar wants you to make money, and that’s a good thing.”

Reducing costs doesn’t necessarily mean lowering quality, Plimpton told attendees. He cited the example of the Tata Nano, a $2,500 car being developed for India. Far from a cheap knockoff or cut-rate product, the Nano involved an impressive lineup of world-class suppliers who shared with Tata a willingness to challenge existing norms, he said.

When Plimpton spoke to HDMA two years ago, he suggested changing the name to HQMA for Highest Quality Manufacturing Association. He suggested a further modification: HQGMA for Highest Quality Global Manufacturing Association.