With the arrival of Michael May as its new Managing Director, there is the possibility of a new start for Iveco. This is a welcome change for the Australian operation, which has had a turbulent few years, and in light of the corporate changes to the global organisation. Tim Giles talks with Michael May, now that he has settled into the job.
The journey of the Iveco organisation in Australia has seen many changes in the last 20 or so years. The global truck manufacturer, which is based in Italy, took over the International Harvester organisation here in Australia – a business that had been struggling for some time.
For a new company in a new country, it was difficult to understand what they might achieve. International trucks had been a powerful force in the Australian market for many years up until then, but Iveco took over when the global truck industry was on the cusp of major changes.
Within 10 years of the initial takeover, the global truck manufacturing landscape changed dramatically, shifting from a larger range of different manufacturers, to a much smaller number of manufacturing companies with Daimler, Volvo and Paccar consolidating several brands under three global umbrella groups. Iveco, itself, is not a small business, but part of the larger Fiat industrial group which includes CNH Industrial and many other engineering-based brands.
The Iveco organisation had at its disposal some good trucks with good reputations. The strongest of which was the Acco, which is still a strong seller in vocational applications. The Iveco brand has also developed a strong range of trucks from the European market and had access to product coming out of the International brand in the US.
What the Iveco organisation lacked, when compared with the larger global groups, was a large research and development budget which could be amortised across a large and diverse number of models and brands around the world. This left Iveco at a disadvantage when competing against the brands of ‘the big three’.
Such is the situation Michael May stepped into in this new role as Managing Director of Iveco in Australia, looking for a new start for Iveco. Iveco has a respectable history and sturdy relationship with the Australian trucking industry, and trucks like the Acco have a place in the hearts of many who grew up with these vehicles.
However, these are fast changing times and a new start for Iveco has to be light on its feet to keep up with the changing technologies and evolving requirements of the trucking industry. Michael is well aware of the situation – coming from an engineering background and previously serving as general manager for Mercedes-Benz trucks here in Australia.
“I started with Iveco in February and I could see the pandemic coming like a wave, because I am connected globally with places like Italy,” says Michael. “So, I have been out of my office since March. There is no doubt about the fact that it is a very interesting time to take the helm of a company. I really like meeting people in person and luckily I got the opportunity to meet with most of the team here in Dandenong before we all had to start working from home.
“In this role, I have to do a lot of online working anyway, because I am reporting directly into the team in Italy, headed by Gerrit Marx, (President, Commercial and Specialty Vehicles of the global organisation). Connecting directly into Europe and working with Iveco as a single entity has been really good for us.
“I knew that this job was going to be a big opportunity and a big challenge for me. This is an opportunity to do something really different, Iveco is a broader company, it’s got the van and cab chassis market, plus it has got strong off-road product. There’s a lot of good product and there’s great manufacturing opportunities.”