All indicators point upward for Mack Trucks, as slow but steady economic expansion and a recovery in housing and other construction-related areas promise further growth in truck sales, said Stephen Roy, the recently appointed president for North American sales and marketing.
Mack has the right products and has worked with its dealers to speed diagnostics and repairs and add uptime to customers’ trucks, he told a press group on Friday at the builder’s Customer Center in Allentown, Pa., Mack’s former hometown.
He has added marketing and support staff, and dealers are “fired up” to sell trucks, with new emphasis on highway applications, he said. Mack is strong in the United States and Canada, which comprise North America in sales-reporting terms, and is preparing to expand its presence in Mexico.
Roy said he will push to increase Mack’s Class 8 market share to 10% or more, from the high nines where it’s been for the last two years. The company estimates industry wide Class 8 sales this year will be about 250,000 units, up from 230,000 to 235,000 in 2013.
“We’re going to execute better than we’ve ever done,” he said of an intense move to strengthen service support through dealers, which he’s been involved in before taking the top job. “The feedback you will start to hear from our customers will reflect that."
"I’m 50 years old and I plan on doing this for the next 15 years. I think our competitors will start hearing our footsteps," he said.”
Mack has traditionally been strong in vocational sales, which took a plunge in the Great Recession but are now reviving. The company will “relaunch the Mack brand” at the giant ConExpo-ConAgg show in Las Vegas next month, he added.
Helping is its stature as an American icon and the standing of “… like a Mack truck” as a part of the language.
2006 was the last good year in housing and general construction, as well as vocational truck sales, but those are rebounding, he said.
“'06 was the high water mark and maybe we shouldn’t use it as a comparison,” Roy said. “We’re now 50% to 60% of where we were in vocational in 2006. I don’t see a slowdown in the next five or six years because there’s so much pent-up demand."
"I’d like to see the Highway Bill passed because that’s the way to replace the infrastructure, to rebuild America and to sell more trucks,"he said.
Slow growth in the economy in some ways is a good thing because customers can plan their trade-in cycles and truck builders can plan their manufacturing, he said. Right now most new trucks are replacing old ones and that’s about how it’ll continue.
“At 2%, 3% GDP (gross domestic product) growth, we’re just going to see replacement,” Roy said. “When we get to 4%, 5% GDP growth, then we’ll start seeing expansion.”
Like others in the trucking industry, Roy and his Mack colleagues believe that the widening of the Panama Canal will send more container traffic to East Coast ports, which bodes well for Mack because it has solid daycab tractor products that have long been used by old-line customers in the East.
And growth in rail-borne intermodal traffic is still minor as a factor in total freight movements.
“Studies I’ve seen say that we’re going to continue to see movement of goods to truck, not rail,” he said. “So I see continued growth in truck sales, not reduction.”