DTNA president Roger Nielsen

DTNA opts to realign by segment, rather than by brand

March 2, 2020
Seamless customer service, dealer processes for Freightliner, Western Star the goal

LAS VEGAS. Coming off a record-setting 10-year market runup, Daimler Trucks North America LLC is setting the stage for the next decade by reshaping its product strategy and sales and marketing teams into a “segment-based” business structure. By aligning internal resources to segment-specific customer needs, the move is designed to better position DTNA to serve both the on-highway and vocational segments in which the Freightliner and Western Star brands compete.

DTNA announced the changes during a gathering of Freightliner and Western Star dealers last week. 

“We love both our brands equally, and now you will see us putting equal support behind those brands on the sales side, the service side, the parts side—everything we do will be equally supported,” DTNA President and CEO Roger Nielsen told trucking industry editors in a conference call from the dealer meeting. “The on-highway segment and the vocational segment deserve equal support. 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.

“If we want to bring the best products in the market to our customers, and if we want to be world class in customer experience, the structures we've had in the past have served us well,” said Howard. “But when we have an eye to the future, it became very clear that we needed to change our organizational structures to match our strategic goals and aspirations.”

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.

“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.”

Both segments will continue to be supported by the entirety of the DTNA dealer network and field staff—the largest in North America, according to the company. And now, with the new strategy, Freightliner and Western Star customers will benefit from a single, seamless program, Carson added.

“What we do today is oftentimes isolated within the brands—not to say that it isn't great, we do a great job there today—but we're missing some optimization chances because we're separated by the brands,” Carson said. “We see that we can create a lot more efficiencies in the future—not only in our product planning, but in our strategic development and, ultimately, in terms of everything that we represent to the dealers that they then sell for the customers.”

Aftermarket opportunities

Additionally, 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 focus to the Vocational segment, explained Stefan Kurschner, senior vice president of Aftermarket, DTNA.

“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,” Kurschner said. “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 percent of DTNA customers to utilize its dedicated delivery service for 12-hour delivery.

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. 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.
  • Peter Arrigoni has been promoted to the new position of vice president, Vocational sales, bringing an increased focus on growth in the Vocational segment. 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
  • 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.

Reporting to Schaefer are Samantha Parlier, vice president of Vocational market development, who will assume responsibility for the complete vocational lines of both Freightliner and Western Star; and Kelly Gedert, vice president of on-highway market development, who 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.        

About the Author

Kevin Jones | Editor