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Mack Losing Sales On The Prairie


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I just moved from Minneapolis to tiny Florence, Minnesota. That's a town of 61 souls at the intersection of US14 and MN23 in southwest Minnesota. The view out my living room window has considerably improved- I've got the always busy BNSF railroad's Marshall Subdivision 200 yards away, with even busier truck route MN23 running right alongside the rails. So I'm getting a front row seat on what truckers out in the prairie states are buying and running.

First off, I was startled by all the new trucks I'm seeing. This is supposed to be farm country, the last refuge of the R models, Transtars, Freightshaker cabovers, etc.. Well, new trucks are selling like hotcakes out here. Why? Most trucking here is tied to farming and the food industry, and even in a recession, people still got to eat so they still buy food. How big is the market? I've been noticing a regional carrier that's got a fleet of mostly near new Cascadias and Prostars pulling food grade tankers, feed trailers, and reefers. It seems like I see one go buy every 15 minutes on highway 23. Turns out my neighbor is the recently retired shop foreman for the company. He informs me that the company has grown to over 500 trucks and they're trading in 2006 models. Yup, just this one carrier out here in Podunk on the Prairie is buying over a hundred new trucks a year. One of their major customers, Schwan Foods, has their own private fleet as well and uses several other carriers as well. Then there's the hundreds of small fleets, owner operators, and farmers whose trucks pass my front window every couple minutes. This looks to be a bumper harvest, commodity prices are going up, and it's going to be a profitable year for the farmers and everyone connected with farming. That means the farmers and everyone else trucking farm products will be looking for tax writeoffs, which means even more new trucks are about to get sold. Throw in the new weight increases in Minnesota which are finally settling out and this could be a very profitable market for Mack!

So why are new Macks such a rare sight out my front window? Because the nearest Mack dealer is 74 miles away for a start, while International and Freightliner are right there in Marshall and doing a land office business. In fact, International has eight dealers closer than the nearest Mack dealer. Kenworth is just as far away as Mack, but they seem to be making most of the sales to the owner operators, small fleets, and even farmers. Why- because they'll custom build! Remember those new increases in the weight limits? The preferred configuration seems to be a tandem drive tractor with a steerable pusher axle and a three axle trailer. And Minnesota is requiring that the tractor's GVW exceed the load carried, which means you need a GVW of at least 54,000 pounds. A generic new tractor off the dealer's lot won't fill that bill- you need 14k and 44k axles at minimum and if the factory won't fit the pusher axle, they at least shouldn't put anything in the way. KW and Pete can custom build to those specs, why can't Mack?

Suffice to say, there's a robust market for new trucks out here and Mack and their Volvo masters are ignoring it.

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...Because the nearest Mack dealer is 74 miles away for a start, while International and Freightliner are right there in Marshall and doing a land office business. In fact, International has eight dealers closer than the nearest Mack dealer...

Which is one of the reasons I went with Mack. Got a Mack dealer 18 miles South, 30 miles North, and 55 miles East. I'm pretty well surrounded by 'em, so no matter which direction I happen to be running, there's one nearby.

International is 18 miles South. Freightshaker is 7 miles West as the crow flies, but on the other side of the river, which means a 30 mile drive...and that's just a small, "support" shop for the trucks going in & out of P&G, not a full-fledged service/dealer location. That is 45 miles south. Petercar and V*lv* are also about 45 miles south.

There's a Caterpillar shop about 25 miles South...right across from a shop bearing a Marmon sign.

Mack is everywhere 'round here....so I see a lot of 'em. Convenience means a lot...if I need a part, I don't want to have to drive 100-200 miles to get it. I'd rather spend what little time I have to repair something that broke actually working on the truck than driving all over God's creation chasing parts for it.

When approaching a 4-way stop, the vehicle with the biggest tires has the right of way!
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