Daimler Trucks North America LLC (DTNA) has announced to its Freightliner and Western Star dealers that it is reshaping its product strategy, and sales and marketing teams into a segment-based business structure. The move better positions DTNA to serve both the On-highway and Vocational segments in which Freightliner and Western Star brands compete by aligning internal resources to segment-specific customer needs.
“We are organizing our business to bring equally strong focus to both our On-highway and Vocational truck customers. Along with that, the best people, products, service and support have been combined to grow our two strong truck brands across both segments,” said Roger Nielsen, President and CEO of DTNA. “This new strategy will ensure that we are delivering the best experience for customers, no matter the application or the industry.”
Accompanying the unveiling of the new market approach, DTNA announced new roles for the leaders of both Freightliner and Western Star. Richard Howard, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, will now assume responsibility for DTNA’s complete portfolio of on-highway trucks as the Senior Vice President, On-Highway Sales and Marketing. David Carson, President of Western Star, will transition to the role of Senior Vice President, Vocational Sales and Marketing. In his new role, Carson assumes responsibility for the full portfolio of vocational trucks at DTNA.
An Evolution in Customer Focus
DTNA’s alignment with the truck market segments reflects an evolution in its go-to-market strategy and promises to drive a customer-focused mindset while honoring the unique heritage and products of two distinct brands.
“We know that all of our customers are unique, but that is especially true in the Vocational segment,” said Carson. “From municipal customers ordering large quantities of Freightliner M2 equipped with digger derricks, to construction companies that have vast heavy equipment needs for products like the Western Star 4900 configured with heavy-duty cranes or dump truck bodies, it is an incredibly rich and diverse segment that requires a keen understanding of each of our customers’ businesses. Our new structure and focus on our customers’ specialized applications will benefit the Vocational segment like no one else can.”
With the largest dealer network in North America, DTNA holds the unrivaled position to provide significantly greater attention to its customers in both the Vocational and On-highway segments. Both segments will continue to be supported by the entirety of the DTNA dealer network and field staff.
“Our new structure will allow our business to grow to new heights,” said Howard. “Together with our dealer network we will continue to prioritize our focus on customer needs including safety, fuel efficiency, and maximum uptime. Alignment around segments will allow us to deliver a world-class customer experience to both our Freightliner and Western Star customers.”
A Revolution in Customer Experience
DTNA pioneered the concept of the 24-hour maximum turnaround in 2018 to put customers back on the road for most service issues within a day or less. The DTNA Aftermarket team continues to accelerate toward this goal with a dedicated Customer Experience (CX) organization launched in mid-2019 and led by chief CX officer, Paul Romanaggi. Communication, speed and transparency associated with continuous improvement efforts have revolutionized the customer experience for the On-highway segment, and DTNA is committed to bringing that same laser focus to the Vocational segment.
“Our Freightliner and Western Star teams know their customers, and will continue to deliver the same exceptional service and support that both brands are known for,” said Stefan Kurschner, Senior Vice President of Aftermarket, DTNA. “Similarly, we have positioned our business to take that one step further and put the collective resources of DTNA at the disposal of all of our customers. Our target is the 24-hour maximum turnaround and we are working to achieve that, whether our customers are running on-highway or off-pavement and whether they’re operating a Freightliner or a Western Star.”
DTNA has introduced several enablers of the 24-hour maximum turnaround that will benefit its Vocational and On-highway customers. Detroit Connect prevents unnecessary downtime with wireless over-the-air truck parameter and firmware updates, and utilizes a Smart Alert system to advise the urgency of fault codes. Excelerator, DTNA’s new eCommerce platform launches this April and will revolutionize the online parts ordering experience by connecting the customer to all dealer management systems in its network, resulting in improved inventory, logistics transparency and delivery options. All of this is supported by DTNA’s expanding parts distribution network, which enables 90% of DTNA customers to utilize its dedicated delivery service for 12-hour delivery.
Familiar Names, New Roles
As part of the newly announced segment strategy, executive appointments include the following:
- Drew Backeberg will assume the newly created position of Vice President, On-Highway Sales. Backeberg is an 18-year veteran of DTNA, holding roles of increasing responsibility in the sales organization throughout his tenure. In his new role he will lead the dealer sales business for on-highway products, including the Freightliner Cascadia, Western Star 5700, and certain M2 applications such as pick-up and delivery.
- Brian Cota will continue to lead a national accounts team. As Vice President of National Accounts, Cota and his team will maintain current responsibilities while focusing on growth strategies for DTNA’s on-highway fleet business. Cota is a 26-year veteran of DTNA, holding roles of increasing responsibility in the sales organization of DTNA and its affiliated brands throughout his tenure.
- Peter Arrigoni has been promoted to the new position of Vice President, Vocational Sales, bringing an increased focus on growth in the Vocational segment. Arrigoni has been with DTNA since 2016 and is a 13-year veteran of the industry. Similar to the on-highway organization, Arrigoni’s new vocational team will have a regional structure that includes three regions in the U.S. and a matrixed reporting structure for Canada. The vocational field sales team is responsible for the entire DTNA vocational product line including the Western Star 4700, 4800, 4900 and 6900, and the Freightliner EconicSD, 108SD, 114SD, 122SD and the M2 for vocational applications.
- Richard Saward will lead a Vocational national accounts team. As Vice President, Vocational National Accounts, Saward and his team will continue to support truck equipment manufacturers, while identifying growth opportunities for vocational fleet business. Saward is a 40-year veteran of DTNA, holding roles of increasing responsibility in the sales organization of DTNA and its affiliated brands throughout his tenure.
Marketing & Product Strategy:
- Kary Schaefer will lead the marketing and product strategy teams for both the On-Highway and Vocational segments that include Freightliner, Western Star and Detroit products. In her role as General Manager, Marketing and Product Strategy, Schaefer will concentrate on market development, platform product strategy, marketing intelligence, planning, reporting, and digital experience. Schaefer is a 21-year veteran of DTNA, holding increasing roles of responsibility throughout her tenure in engineering, product planning and marketing.
Reporting to Schaefer are:
- Samantha Parlier, Vice President of Vocational Market Development, will assume responsibility for the complete vocational lines of both Freightliner and Western Star. Parlier has been with DTNA since 2017 and has a long history of executive leadership at original equipment manufacturers serving the commercial vehicle industry.
- Kelly Gedert, Vice President of On-Highway Market Development, will assume responsibility for the on-highway products for both Freightliner and Western Star. She will additionally have market development responsibility for Detroit, whose components serve both segments. Gedert is a 13-year veteran of DTNA with increasing responsibility in product strategy and marketing.