Three months into his tenure as president of Mack Trucks and member of the Volvo Group Executive Board, Martin Weissburg sat down with trucking media for the first time since taking the helm of the 118-year-old company.
Weissburg, who replaces the retiring Dennis Slagle as Mack’s chief, previously served as president and CEO of Mack Financial Services and Volvo Financial Services and president and CEO of Volvo Construction Equipment, a $9 billion business unit of Volvo AB and the third largest construction equipment manufacturer worldwide.
Weissburg, a Maryland native, called the Mack position a “dream job” in the heavy truck market. “Growing up in Mack territory, especially in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic area, to be able to join this iconic brand and the leader of this great team is a wonderful opportunity.”
Weissburg arrives at Mack with all-time-high truck production at its Lehigh Valley Operations and the company at the tail end of an $80 million-plus investment in LVO factory operations.
Weissburg expects 2019 will be another strong year for truck sales, but the record market demand has created new challenges for truck manufacturers.
“When this upturn corrects or if we are at a plateau we stay at for a while, I remain impressed that it is as robust as it is still, not just new truck sales, but the basic fundamentals underpinning all the aspects of our business,” said Weissburg. “We have our share of challenges in a stressed supply chain as well. I’m close with our suppliers and empathize with their challenges with the strong demand on component suppliers and castings… One of the benefits of being part of strong global group is that we have a global supply chain and we leverage that very well.”
Push into long-haul
Weissburg’s tenure also begins as Mack begins full production of its Mack Anthem, the company’s new flagship on-highway product with proprietary engine, transmission and axle technology.
Anthem production ramped up starting the first quarter of 2018 and demand continues to increase, and Weissburg said the new truck already is a star in the company’s lineup with year-to-date orders of Mack 70-inch sleepers already two times what it was for all of 2017.
“We had been lacking something as good as this,” said Weissburg of the Anthem. “We are building a significant [market] share albeit from a position lower than where we would have wanted to be historically,” said Weissburg. “Mack in the long-haul highway sleeper segment is not in the No. 1 position, but the Anthem allows us to grow and take share. When you invest the money and time developing a product like the Mack Anthem, it’s not to sit back and hope it goes okay, it’s to play offense.”
In addition to bulk, heavy-haul and regional carriers, Mack’s core on-highway market continues to be small and mid-size fleets. Weissburg said larger companies are now looking at the Anthem as a driver retention tool and reward truck for high-achieving drivers.
Focus on uptime
Weissburg said Mack will continue its investment in and growth of its recent wave of uptime initiatives to better serve customers and dealers, including its Uptime Center, the company’s new support center based in Greensboro, N.C., to better serve fleet customers and dealers.
“We are a product company, but ultimately we are a transportation solutions company, and [the Uptime Center] is the backbone of transportation solutions,” said Jonathan Randall, Mack Trucks’ senior vice president of sales and marketing. “Productivity and uptime for our customers is the ultimate quest so our customers can satisfy their end customers.”
Mack has introduced several initiatives in recent years, including GuardDog Connect, Mack Over The Air, OneCall, Asist and its Mack Certified Uptime Dealer program to better support Mack customers by limiting breakdowns and minimizing downtime when breakdowns do occur.
“A lot of dwell time is due to work with software systems, and we are successfully working to eliminate the need for fleets to bring trucks into fleets for dealers for software fixes,” said Randall.
Mack is currently testing OTA software updates with several hundred trucks across multiple fleets that allows Mack to schedule remote updates around the driver’s planned downtime.
“This is the latest innovation to continue to drive fleet productivity, and we will continue to invest heavily in that going forward,” said Randall.
Weissburg views Mack’s uptime services effort as part of the company’s four-legged stool along with products, financing and leasing and dealer network.
“Uptime is only a word unless you have a strong dealer network,” said Weissburg. “We’ve been fortunate because of the strength of the Mack brand and the product offering that our dealers continue to invest in their businesses as well,” referring to continued investment in Mack’s Certified Uptime Dealer program.