Dee Kapur has been president of International Truck and Engine Corp.'s truck group for just three weeks, but he says it's long enough to know the company can be a leader in the Class 8 business.
"I'm here to make sure International is a winner in the Class 8 business," Kapur said during a conference call to discuss the company's decision to keep its Chatham, Ontario heavy-duty truck plant open. "Chatham is an indication of this commitment. I don't see any reason that we cannot be the benchmark in the Class 8 business."
A day after Kapur was brought in to replace Steve Keate, who headed the truck group from 1999 until he left the company this past April 23, International announced that it would keep the Chatham plant open, thanks to a long-term investment by the company, the Canadian government and the Province of Ontario.
"Keeping Chatham open is an important part of our strategy of being the leader in the Class 8 market," said Jordan Feiger, vp and general manager of International's Heavy Vehicle Center. "The Chatham plant has the capacity needed to grow its market share during the next upswing, and further investment there should give International industry-leading products."
To become the leader, Kapur said the truck group will focus on the current products, what they do, and how the company can make any new products the best of their respective class. He added that International has the chance to also become a leader in Class 6 & 7 products.
"In Class 6 & 7 we have the opportunity to set ourselves apart from our competition," Kapur said. "Visually we have the best truck on the market. Now we have to get the quality of those trucks up."
If International's plan to close the Chatham plant went through, it had planned to move production of its heavy-duty models to its Escobedo, Mexico plant. However, that would have also involved adding more capacity to that plant.
"Escobedo is a high quality facility and we would have been fine with building our Class 8 trucks there," Feiger said. "The deal with Canada provided better savings for our customers. We feel very good about what Canada had to offer us.