Steve Lotter: Hino
Steve Lotter took up the dual role of Chairman and CEO at Hino at the beginning of February and is the first local to be appointed to such a position in Hino’s global network. On the eve of moving into the top job, Steve commented on a range of hot industry subjects – exclusively for Prime Mover.
The Australian Truck Market:
“I think this is one of the most competitive truck markets in the world and every brand is here. They want to come here because we are a stable, safe, first-world economy and we are a great test market. If you are successful here, you can be successful anywhere.
We are an attractive market for reasons other than volume. Our company in Japan is more and more looking at our market in terms of product development and product testing. Here you can get a good feel for what can be applied to [other markets like] South Africa or around the world.
The truck market is driven by economic activity. You would expect that the market is going to grow in line with GDP at least. I’d love to talk it up but I think that the market this year will be not much bigger than last year. I think it will grow but I don’t think it will be significant.
Is mining suddenly going to come back again? The dollar dropping, is that going to stimulate activity? It’s certainly not going you make imported trucks any cheaper.”
“I was just fortunate to join what was then a small company called Thiess Toyota with a heap of potential and ride that wave. At Toyota, I had a lot of different jobs from market analysis to public relations, advertising to fleet sales. Then I became General Manager Sales, then General Manager Dealer Development. Divisional Manager Parts and Service was my last role there at Toyota.
I then had to opportunity to go and run Kia. It was hard to leave Toyota after 30 years and I thought, ‘Here I am, early fifties and I’ve got the chance to run a company and use all of this experience doing that.’
The first three months were just about getting it out of Ateco, and I then spent two months running it as the inaugural Chief Operating Officer. John Conomos was Chairman Emeritus for Toyota at the time and he came across as the Chairman of Hino and he rang me and said that Roger Hoare Hall (at Hino) was retiring and asked if I wanted to come and have a chat. At Hino, I would have the opportunity to realise all I wanted to achieve at Kia and be part of that culture.
The Korean business culture and the Japanese business culture are quite different, but it’s still a great brand. I grew up in a Toyota culture environment and obviously I’d worked with John for probably 25 of those 30 years. Anyway, the opportunity came to work with John at the Toyota Group I thought that it was too good to refuse.
I’ve been over seven years with Hino - it just goes like that. We’re still very separate companies as we are in very separate markets, but we work very closely with the Toyota group of companies, be it Toyota Motor Corporation Australia, Toyota Materials Handling or Toyota Finance.
We work under one Toyota banner but we’re all independent companies in our own right with our own different segments of the market. There are certain synergies that we can employ and we are still working to achieve those.”