Putting a global face on OEM leadership

Putting a global face on OEM leadership

While the change at the top of one truck OEM has garnered most of the headlines in the past few months, it is but one alteration of leadership in the past year that is reshaping the look of the industry’s top manufacturers.

Troy Clarke took over as president & CEO of Navistar on April 15, replacing interim CEO Lewis B. Campbell, who led the company following the retirement of Daniel Ustian last summer.

Clarke is in charge of turning the company around, which began under Campbell with the sale of its Workhorse Custom Chassis brand and has continued with the sale of its Monaco RV brand among other moves, including the shift to SCR aftertreatment for its engines.

“I think the big [question] is what’s his management style,” Eric Starks, president of FTR Associates, told Fleet Owner. “How aggressive is he going to be in turning the company around? How transparent is he? How will he deal with the customers?”

Prior to taking over at Navistar, Clarke had served as president, Truck and Engine. He joined Navistar in January 2010 as president of Navistar Asia Pacific, where he was responsible for leading the company’s growth initiatives in the region.

He spent 35 years at General Motors, including time as president of GM North America and GM group vice president. Prior to that, he spent two years as president of GM Asia Pacific and GM group vice president. Over the course of his career with GM, he also served as president and managing director of GM de Mexico and director of manufacturing for GM de Mexico.

“The big thing is really stopping the bleeding and that’s the real focus right now,” Starks said, adding that Navistar has delayed its second quarter earnings announcement, although the meaning of that is unclear at this time. “I think, in general, the change in strategy is pretty clear - the change in technology. I think the next year will tell.”

Clarke is not the only recent change at Navistar. In April, Jack Allen was named executive vice president and COO. While he was president of Navistar’s Engine Group, Allen led initiatives that included the acquisition of Brazilian engine producer MWM Motores Diesel Ltd and a partnership with MAN Nutzfahrzeuge AG of Germany. Allen also served as vice president and general manager of the company’s Parts organization.

The hiring of both Clarke and Allen are significant for Navistar, but also part of a growing trend among the OEMs to tap into the global marketplace, analysts said.

“These are all people who [have experience with] global platforms,” Sandeep Kar, global director-commercial vehicle research for Frost & Sullivan, told Fleet Owner. “They all have experience globally as well as here in North America.”

Navistar also named Bill Kozek, formerly general manager of Peterbilt and Paccar vice president, to replace Allen as president of its North American Truck and Parts business. Kozek joined Navistar following a 26-year career with Paccar. He had served as Paccar vice president and Peterbilt general manager since January 2012. He too, has global experience, having served as vice president of Paccar China in 2011, and general manager of Paccar’s Kenworth brand from October 2008 to June 2011.

Darrin Siver was named to replace Kozek as general manager at Peterbilt. He was most recently general manager of Paccar Parts and has served with Paccar for 19 years.

A change at the top of Daimler Trucks brings Wolfgang Bernhard, previously head of operations at Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz Cars division, to the top spot of Daimler Trucks while moving former chief executive Andreas Renschler over to handle production and purchasing of Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars & Mercedes-Benz Vans. That change was effective on April 1.

Bernhard’s experience is a cross section of North American and global experience and typical of that which is being seen in the recent hires. Bernhard, who joined Daimler in 1994, has held several positions within the company, including COO of the Chrysler Group under DaimlerChrysler from 2000 to 2004. From 2005 through 2007, he was a member of the board of management of Volkswagen AG. He also served as head of business unit for Mercedes-Benz Vans in 2009 and member of the board of management, manufacturing and procurement for Mercedes-Benz Cars & Mercedes-Benz Vans in 2010.

Over at Ford, CEO Alan Mulally stepped down and was replaced by Mark Fields in December 2012. Fields was president of the Americas since October 2005, leading the development, manufacturing, marketing and sales of Ford and Lincoln vehicles in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and South America. He also served as executive vice president, Ford of Europe and Premier Automotive Group (PAG), where he led all activities for Ford’s premium vehicle business group, and for Ford-brand vehicles manufactured and sold in European countries.

All the hires have a few common traits, Kar said, including cost-cutting experience, global experience, North American experience, and perhaps most importantly, solid leadership skills.

“In this new business environment, this is what [manufacturers] are all looking for,” he said.

Chrysler also made a change recently, naming Reid Bigland president and CEO - Ram Truck Brand and the head of U.S. Sales for Chrysler Group LLC. That move was necessitated by Nissan’s luring of Fred Diaz away from Ram to serve as divisional vice president of Nissan sales and marketing.

Bigland was appointed to his position in April. He had been president & CEO of the Dodge Brand. Bigland came to Chrysler in July 2006 from Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., where he served as president. He also has truck experience with Freightliner and Western Star, serving as director of U.S. sales for Western Star in 1999 and general manager of dealer operations for Freightliner in 2002.

Diaz is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Nissan Division in the U.S., which includes all sales, marketing, fixed operations, parts and service and administration functions. He had been CEO of Chrysler’s Ram Truck unit since 2009 and also CEO of Chrysler de Mexico since 2011, responsible for all the Chrysler Group brands there.

Volvo Trucks named Göran Nyberg president of North American sales & marketing for the company back in October 2012. Nyberg is responsible for all of Volvo’s commercial truck activities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. He has been with the Volvo Group since 2003 and has more than 20 years of experience, including a stint as managing director of Volvo Group UK Limited, the sales and marketing division for Volvo Trucks in the United Kingdom.

“The focus clearly has to be outside the North American market,” Starks said. “If you don’t bring in people that can think globally, you could be in trouble.”

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