Having Swedes in the engine room will help UD Nissan Diesel, writesGRAHAMSMITH
ON THE quiet, UD general manager John Bushell was over the moon when Volvo bought a majority stake in UD Nissan Diesel.
He had to show restraint as he knew the takeover meant pain for a number of his staff, but he also knew this was the breakthrough that would let UD achieve its full potential in the local market.
‘‘When we heard Volvo had bought control of UD we thought it was great,’’ Bushell says. ‘‘For the first time in 30 years we wouldn’t be p---ing into the fan!
‘‘We were marginalised under the old arrangement, but this is going to be a great marriage.’’
The changes at UD are aimed at making the company a more costeffective operation through access to Volvo Commercial Vehicles Australia (VCVA) backroom services, such as finance, administration and parts.
The most visible effect will be a massive expansion of the dealer network.
Current dealer agreements are not being renewed as they expire; instead new agreements are being negotiated, most of which will be with Volvo and Mack dealers.
By the end of next year, when the rollout of the new dealer network is expected to be completed, UD’s dealer network will be three times the size it is now.
The network will give UD a much-needed boost in visibility.
‘‘I feel quite strongly that the way we have been brought into the group has been a much better ride than anyone could have expected,’’ Bushell says.
UD is benefiting from the lessons learned when Volvo took over Mack, he says, which is making this merger much smoother than the Mack one.
Bushell say there is no conflict between the three brands.
Volvo is a premium
on- highway heavy-duty truck brand; Mack has a strong reputation for its vocational trucks, while UD has a reputation for reliability in the local and regional distribution industry with its medium and heavy-duty trucks.
‘‘That’s the bread and butter of the Japanese brands and that’s where we can shine,’’ Bushell says.
‘‘We should have 25 per cent of the market for Japanese trucks in Australia.’’
Head office support from UD in Japan is important to achieving that goal and this has not always been as strong as Bushell would have liked.
He says the company is changing its focus towards exports and he expects to have greater product support.
‘‘We do well with clients who want a 10-pallet truck with an Eaton gearbox in it, for instance, but in other segments we don’t have trucks and that brings our market share down,’’ he says.
Bushell is confident he will get the trucks he has been wanting now greater emphasis is being placed on increasing the company’s sales outside of Japan.
‘‘I’ve never seen the morale of the people in the export department higher than I have since the Volvo takeover and the appointment of Claes Svedberg as its manager,’’ Bushell says.
‘‘Volvo has given UD the directive to lift its exports and Svedberg is driving it.’’
Happy: John Bushell doesn’t see a clash with Mack and Volvo.