At a meeting last month in Las Vegas, Nev., senior officials from Daimler Trucks North America – including new Western Star General Manager Michael Jackson – confirmed that DTNA is committed to a long-term development plan and the success of Western Star.
“Going forward, that includes establishing a separate identity for Western Star within the corporate structure at Daimler Trucks North America,” Jackson says. “We are here to stay and standing behind this truck brand.” Western Star will work to better differentiate its vehicles from other models within the DTNA stable, Jackson says. As part of that effort, Western Star now will enjoy its own profit-and-loss structure as well as an independent product development team.
“Western Star, like all premium brands, is not a volume leader nationally in terms of sales,” Jackson notes. “But we do enjoy high market share numbers when you break it down into strong Western Star segments such as mining, logging and oil field applications. But to maintain our strong presence in those markets and provide our customers with the premium products they demand in all markets, we have to be nimble. That’s why having an independent budget, separate from the Freightliner brand, is so important for us.”
Ann Demitruk, director of marketing, says the company will begin working with dealers to find ways to enhance brand awareness and present vehicle demonstrations at truckstops and other venues in order to put potential customers behind the wheel of Western Star trucks. “We’ll also continue to focus on owner-operators, as they’ve always been a ‘sweet spot’ for us as an aspirational brand,” Demitruk says. “And our overseas markets, including South Africa and Australia, will remain a priority as well.”