Freightliner employees with 25 or more years’ experience at the company shared the stage with Dr. Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the DaimlerChrysler Board of Management and responsible for the Mercedes Car Group; Andreas Renschler, Board of Management member responsible for the Truck Group and Buses; and Chris Patterson, president and CEO of Freightliner LLC at the 25th anniversary celebration of Freightliner’s affiliation with DaimlerChrysler in Portland, OR on May 31. “I still find it absolutely essential that this company was founded by a customer,” observed Dr. Zetsche. “Being customer-oriented is a part of our company DNA. It is who we are.”
Created by consolidated Freightways president Leyland James in 1942, Freightliner became a part of Daimler-Benz AG in 1981, when Mercedes was seeking a distribution network in the U.S. At the time of the acquisition, the company had just produced the 200,000th Freightliner truck. Today, Freightliner LLC is part of the world’s largest truck manufacturer, producing 182,400 trucks and school buses in 2005 alone.
“Today, you are the cornerstone of the DaimlerChrysler Truck Group,” Dr. Zetsche told the audience of employees and members of the press assembled in the company’s huge mock-up facility, “Together with your sister companies, Mitsubishi Fuso and Mercedes-Benz Trucks, you combine to form the single largest seller of commercial trucks in the world, by a factor of more than two… Twenty-five years ago, when Freightliner became the first American member of the Daimler-Benz family, nobody in their wildest dreams would have guessed just how much that transatlantic family would one day grow…We have a team of more than 380,000 people worldwide who create products in 37 nations.”
All in the global family
Even before the anniversary cake was cut, however, the Freightliner/DaimlerChrysler team was already looking ahead. Renschler outlined the road map for the transatlantic family’s future in his remarks to the group, noting that being the biggest commercial truck manufacturer in the world was an impressive accomplishment, but that the next goal was to become “the best in every respect…by fully leveraging the competitive advantage inherent in the large, global scale of DaimlerChrysler and our Truck Group.”
According to Renschler, the company’s Global Excellence program was developed to bring together all of the measures needed to optimize the commercial truck business going forward. It features four key initiatives for optimizing the business model and brand portfolio, including implementing a variety of efficiency programs, moving to a modular strategy for product development in order to achieve a high degree of common components and modules across all five truck brands, increasing market participation in under-penetrated segments, and reinforcing the company’s leadership position in technology.
“Our task today is to achieve true operating excellence, including best-in-class financial and customer satisfaction performance, as well as success in unit sales,” added Chris Patterson. “Our partnership with DaimlerChrysler affords us a unique opportunity and a powerful competitive advantage: the ability to draw on vast global resources to develop and utilize specialized components available only to us. The future will see a marked reduction in our willingness to share our scale with competitors.”
For the very near future, Patterson noted that the marketplace would be seeing “the results of more cooperation among the Truck Group business units when it comes to new product development and marketing, as well as shared technology in the environmental arena,” as soon as this August. “Twenty-five years of partnership and success is only the beginning,” he observed.