According to Australia’s Truck Industry Council (TIC), Volvo subsidiary Mack has sold 26.1 per cent more new trucks between January and August 2014 than during the same time last year – a respectable result given the overall market was down 3.8 per cent over the same period.
Mack is now in eight place on the overall ranking, up from tenth, even though it’s only servicing the 16+ tonne segment of the market. All up, more than a thousand new Macks are expected hit the roads during 2014. So, has the brand over-accomplished its growth target?
“We certainly like those numbers,” an affable Dean Bestwick responds, adding that the growth in market share has been widely organic. “The main work was done 12 months ago. We’ve been working hard both externally and internally to ensure each team member knows the heart and soul of every model – now it’s just a matter of spreading the good news.”
In his last Prime Mover interview, Dean emphasised that having the right specifications for the Australian market would be crucial. Today, he and his sales staff exhibit strong confidence that their product is well suited for the job at hand.
“We had to be sure that we got the synchronised driveline of the mDRIVE transmission and the MP10 engine and final drive ratios right – particularly in the Super-Liner category,” he explains.
“We also needed to maximise the sleeper cab for those 34-pallet applications, and then everything else took care of itself.”
Step two, Dean says, was ensuring Mack had enough demonstration trucks available. “The thing is to go and get bums on seats, so we had a pretty aggressive ‘seat program’. It is a big investment, but it is well worth it. There’s nothing more satisfying than giving somebody a truck and telling them what it can potentially do, and then having them come back only to ratify what you said. We’ve had some large fleet customers that have come back and said, ‘We didn’t think it would work but where do we sign?’”
But it hasn’t just been the Super-Liner that received attention from the engineering and marketing team, as Dean says the vocational category is still doing well too. “The vocational segment has been really strong this year, particularly for our NSW-based customers, but the balance of Mack’s growth has come from the line haul sector.”
Only a year ago, Dean predicted that shift in his first Prime Mover interview – so how did the vision become reality?
According to Dean, the NSW market made all the difference. “Mack’s NSW market share has nearly doubled in the last year, and when NSW is firing, the rest of the country isn’t far behind.
“It’s a confidence thing. You look at the NSW government and their investment in infrastructure, which is what we’re tapping into. They are constructing the road corridors in western Sydney, so you can be sure that you can get that B-double or potentially that B-triple straight up the Hume through Sydney to Brisbane.
“The fact of the matter is that we help build the infrastructure with our vocational products to provide something that we can drive our new line-haul products on. We’re supplying the Metro-Liners that mix the concrete for the foundations and our customers are constantly bringing in truck and dog loads of materials.”
Dean says the slowing of the mining boom put additional pressure on Mack to expand its range and options. “When the mining work backs off, it really affects those states like WA and Queensland, but you still need to supply the toilet paper and the food to the mine sites. While they have reduced their production, there is still the need for line haul trucks to get that kind of freight out there. We like to think that we are pretty well across nearly everything as far as model range goes, [at least] for the markets we are currently active in.”
But as Dean isn’t one to sit on his hands, he is determined to continue adding value to the brand. After undergoing a global rebranding in April to align the Mack brand with the new parent company, the Volvo Group, he is keen to push for additional growth. “The Mack brand is an icon. You see a Mack logo and and you know what it stands for and what it represents. The re-launch helped us synchronise that message with the Volvo Group’s very own values. It has made the Mack brand truly global.”
Going forward, Dean says the biggest challenge is to maintain consumer confidence within the marketplace. “You don’t want to be too aggressive in any one market segment, such as mining. Instead, what you need to do is help your customers understand where their bottom lines are, regardless of the industry they’re in.”
Dean is quick to point out that today’s fleets and owner-drivers are looking for more than just a new truck. “We know that the Mack name will always open doors, but we also need to focus on the business side of things. Combine the emotion of a new truck with a reliable after sales service and people just can’t say no. Once they realise we can make their bottom lines look a bucket load better, we usually have a deal.”
In the future, Dean says it’s all about building on that foundation. “We have a solid team behind us, a great mix of private and company-owned dealers, and we know where we want to go from here. I think that’s a pretty solid value proposition.”
According to Dean, “from here it’s merely a confidence thing. We have the right product and the right mind-set – my job is to ensure we can capitalise on that.