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Beware of the ‘dog

Jason Cannon October 4, 2013

Mack is one of the icons in American trucking.

Mack's history is rich and well documented. This 1905 Mack bus, located at the Mack Customer Center in Allentown, Penn., is the oldest known Mack in the world.
Mack’s history is rich and well documented. This 1905 Mack bus, located at the Mack Customer Center in Allentown, Penn., is the oldest known Mack in the world.

They’ve been name-dropped in countless country songs, and used to describe the tackling abilities of top-tier football players.

Mack has even starred on the silver screen as a bad guy in the Transformers franchise.

Their brand recognition is through the roof. Their marketshare, however, is not.

The 100-plus year old truck stalwart lags significantly behind market leader Freightliner, who boasts a 39 percent share of all Class 8 truck sales.

That’s not a testament to the quality of Mack’s trucks. It’s simply a testament to their abilities to move them.

Mack’s TerraPro is the refuse industry’s Camry – there are tons of them on the road. And the Bulldog is among the leaders of the pack in development and implementation of natural gas engines. A longtime NatGas partner of UPS, the No. 1 freight company in the States according to CCJ, Mack has proven itself a dependable innovator.

Mack closed last year with a marketshare of 8.9 percent, and Mack’s Vice President of Marketing, John Walsh, expects to cross the finish line in 2013 in that vicinity.

The unilateral meltdown of the construction segment has hindered Mack’s abilities to put more trucks on the road. Governmental cutbacks have further hindered their abilities to move more refuse trucks.

Walsh says the company has focused its dealers on targeting regional haulers for growth, a segment the company let move out of focus in construction’s heyday.

This sinister looking Mack Granite starred as Megatron in the Transformers movie franchise.
This sinister looking Mack Granite starred as Megatron in the Transformers movie franchise.

While capturing portions of the regional segment will go a long way toward pushing Mack to double digit marketshare, Mack will eventually need to engage the long-haul business.

Walsh says Mack doesn’t consider long-haul fleets part of its core business, and that’s understandable because many of them don’t own Macks.

In a brand loyalty business like trucking, conversions don’t come easy. But when you’re chasing marketshare and a leader with a four-fold lead, you go all in. Especially when you have a product suite like Mack’s.

The Pinnacle is a fine long-haul truck, and teamed with an mDrive transmission and Twin Y suspension it will rank among the easiest driving on the road. You honestly have to drive it to believe it, and getting butts in the seats on test drives will put trucks on the road eventually.

The Pinnacle is a great product to sell, and the long-haul segment has money and a developing need, especially with one of the plush sleeper options you’ll find on a Pinnacle. Mack’s new GuardDog Connect remote diagnostics capabilities make it a great fit for fleets nationwide.

Volvo Group, of which Mack is a member, has a stated goal of being the global leader in trucking. That’s possible. And it’s likely. Eventually.

But it’s going to take igniting a long-haul sales effort, capturing regional fleets and the rekindling of the construction segment.

When will Mack’s marketshare hit double digits? I don’t know. I would expect 2016 to 2017 – just to give automatic transmissions more time to marinate industrywide and for fleets to become more familiar with Mack’s suspension design – but sooner rather than later for sure.

Don’t doubt the Bulldog.

This dog will have its day.

Jason Cannon is Online Managing Editor for Truck Parts & Service.

You can follow me on twitter at @By_Jason_Cannon

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