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Mack Trucks Head for the Highway

TORONTO — Four letters. The clue? “Built like a _ _ _ _ truck”.

“Mack” was actually one of the answers in the Toronto Star crossword puzzle Monday February 24 and if that doesn’t prove the bulldog’s hefty presence in the vocational truck market, we don’t know what does.

Now however, the recently appointed president of North American Sales and marketing, Stephen Roy says he plans to push Mack’s Class-8 market share to 10 percent higher or more.

Marketing, support staff and dealers are “fired up” to sell highway trucks, Roy said.

"I’m 50 years old and I plan on doing this for the next 15 years. I think our competitors will start hearing our footsteps," he said.

Roy said vocational sales, which took a plunge in the recession, are now reviving.

Roy added that 2006 was the last good year in housing and general construction, as well as vocational truck sales, but those are rebounding.

“'06 was the high-water mark and maybe we shouldn’t use it as a comparison. We’re now 50 to 60 percent of where we were in vocational in 2006. I don’t see a slowdown in the next five or six years because there’s so much pent-up demand."

"I’d like to see the Highway Bill passed because that’s the way to replace the infrastructure, to rebuild America and to sell more trucks," he said.

Stephen Roy

Slow growth in the economy in some ways is a good thing because customers can plan their trade-in cycles and truck builders can plan their manufacturing, he said. Right now most new trucks are replacing old ones and that’s about how it’ll continue.

“At two, three percent GDP (gross domestic product) growth, we’re just going to see replacement,” Roy said. “When we get to four, five percent GDP growth, then we’ll start seeing expansion.”

Like others in the trucking industry, Roy and his colleagues at Mack believe that the widening of the Panama Canal will send more container traffic to East Coast ports, which bodes well for Mack because it has solid daycab tractor products that have long been used by old-line customers in the East.

And growth in rail-borne intermodal traffic is still minor as a factor in total freight movements.

“Studies I’ve seen say that we’re going to continue to see movement of goods to truck, not rail,” he said. “So I see continued growth in truck sales, not reduction.”

The company estimates industry-wide Class 8 sales this year will be about 250,000 units, up from 230,000 to 235,000 in 2013.

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