ROANOKE, VA. Denny Slagle, president & CEO of North American Trucks, parent of Volvo Trucks North America (VTNA), has a clear vision for VTNA, and it’s not the fourth-place market share the company currently holds in the U.S. market.
“I’d be very disappointed if a lot of the things we’re doing don’t find traction,” Slagle told reporters during a roundtable discussion at the Hotel Roanoke in Roanoke, VA, this week, not far from VTNA’s New River Valley assembly plant.
Slagle, who also serves as president & CEO of Mack Trucks, focused much of his discussion on the value VTNA delivers to customers. “I think the market will [reward] the package of stability and reliability that Volvo delivers,” he said. “It’s a very, very interesting time and within that time there is opportunity.”
The U.S. Class 8 market should increase 20% to 30% in 2010 over the lows of 2009, Slagle said. Recovery in the economy remains crucial for the company, and both Slagle and Ron Huibers, North American Trucks’ senior vp-sales and marketing, believe the improving economy brings optimism.
“It’s a new game in 2010 and people are looking for the best truck,” Slagle said.
“There’s room for optimism on our side, but we still have to [perform for customers]” Huibers added. Many of the sales he is seeing so far in 2010 are not fleets expanding, though. “There’s a replacement cycle going on now rather than an expansion,” Huibers said.
Despite that, Slagle thinks the time is coming soon when fleets will start buying on a greater scale. “I believe there are a lot of fleets out there with their finger on the trigger,” he noted.
To grow market share, VTNA needs to focus on its core values, Slagle said. Safety remains a key selling point for Volvo, and Slagle joked that with nearly all drivers mentioning safety as a top priority, saying, “Volvo should have 100% of the marketplace.”
Slagle also addressed the rumor that continues to appear from time to time that Volvo will be leaving the North American market.
“I think people look at the market share and then they make expectations,” he said. “Volvo is a global company and when you are a global company, you don’t pull out of the biggest market in the world.”
In fact, Slagle pointed out that other companies, such as Fiat, are starting to adopt the global strategy that VTNA parent Volvo AG has had for years of creating quality brands and then using economy of scales to reduce costs.
Several times Slagle mentioned that “you get what you deserve,” and he hopes that the hard work and investments the company has made in recent years will help it “get exactly what we deserve, and then we get more.”