When customers talk about iconic brands, there is a wide disparity on what makes a brand iconic. Coca-Cola, Apple, IBM. They all fit the list, but some might also consider Subway, Target, or Zippo to be iconic. On some, we can all agree.
For those in the trucking industry, Mack Trucks – with its 111-year heritage – is certainly an iconic brand. For new Mack Trucks President Martin Weissburg, that was reinforced over the past four years as he led Volvo Construction Equipment in Europe.
“As an American living overseas running a global company … I realized how iconic the Mack brand is, and how powerful it was for the dealers and customers,” he told FreightWaves. “Coming back, you see the connection people have with the brand. When someone [in Europe] says they want truck merchandise, what they want is Mack merchandise.”
Weissburg, on the job formally since June 1, held a roundtable discussion with reporters on Monday at Mack’s Customer Center in Allentown, PA., reflecting on his journey back to America and touching on the market and Mack’s position in it.
“To me, it’s a dream job of a career based in truck and trailer equipment,” he said. “For me, Mack is like the cherry on top.”
Weissburg replaced Denny Slagle, the long-time and popular Mack president, who retired earlier this year. Having run Volvo Construction Equipment for the past four years, the Mack position represented a chance to return to the United States for Weissburg, who hails from Maryland and is now based at Mack’s headquarters in Greensboro, NC.
Weissburg served as president of Volvo Construction Equipment since 2014, but originally joined the Volvo Group, Mack Trucks’ parent organization, in 2005 as president of Volvo Financial Services Americas. In 2010, he was named president of Volvo Financial Services. Weissburg is a member of the Volvo Group’s Executive Board.
Beyond the introduction to the media, Weissburg touched on several subjects in a nearly one-hour sit down with reporters from national trade publications and local Lehigh Valley media. He noted that demand has remained strong for Mack’s Anthem model and that year-to-date, Anthem’s order intake has run two times the total number of on-highway Mack model deliveries in 2017. In addition, the company’s low-cabover models and its Granite straight truck, which remains the number-one selling straight truck in North America, he said, continue to perform well.
“This has been a hot lineup,” Weissburg noted. “We’re very proud of it, we’ve invested heavily and will continue to invest.”
While not divulging any specifics, Weissburg said that investment in Lehigh Valley operations would continue. Lehigh Valley houses the only truck manufacturing plant for Mack in North America. Employment at the facility is up to 2,400 employees and Mack has invested over $80 million in the area, including the manufacturing facility as well as the Customer Center, in recent years.
“I had a meeting where we were discussing not if we spend more, but where we will spend more [on facilities],” he said.
Photo: Inside the Mack Anthem
“The Lehigh Valley has been very good to Mack,” Weissburg said, noting later on that finding quality employees to fuel growth and meet truck demand has been easier than expected. “I’ve been impressed with how well we have attracted and retained employees at all of our facilities …. and part of that is it’s a great place to work.”
Weissburg noted the hot market, saying that Mack sees order strength continuing into next year. The company’s market share is growing thanks in large part to the Anthem, as well as its vocational vehicles. “We have such a strong history with the products that we are so well known for,” Weissburg said, adding that Mack is glad to have rolled out the Anthem in time for the boom in truck orders. “We can’t make them fast enough.
“We’re building significant share [on highway], but its from a location lower than we wanted to be,” he added. “But it provides an opportunity.”
Mack has not been known for over-the-road trucks, but the Anthem is helping change that. With the primary Mack customer smaller fleets and owner-operators, Jonathan Randall, senior vice president for North American sales, said that the OEM is starting to see more interest in Mack from mid-sized fleets (500 trucks) and even some larger fleets that are interested in the Anthem as a “reward truck” for top-performing drivers.
Weissburg did comment on supply chain challenges Mack and others are facing but said that being part of the Volvo Group helps mitigate some of that.
“We have our share of challenges in a stretched supply chain; the whole industry is dealing with that and Mack Trucks is no different,” he said. “[But] one of the advantages we have being part of a strong global group is we have a strong global supply chain.”
There is concern about tariffs raising prices, but Weissburg noted that tariffs are but one concern facing everyone in the industry in terms of pricing.
“With the tariffs, it has allowed an environment for component suppliers, tariffs or not, to raise [prices],” he said, adding that logistics costs and even worker shortages throughout the supply chain are stressing costs across the board. With that said, Weissburg stressed that Mack is “in a relationship business” with its customers and that continues with its work towards providing quality service at all touchpoints.
“It’s a multi-leg stool,” he said. “We have the products, we have the dealers, we have the financing, and we have the Uptime.”