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Daimler picks U.S. trucks chief Daum to replace Bernhard


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Reuters  /  February 27, 2017

Daimler AG has appointed the head of its North American trucks division to run group-wide truck operations, replacing departed chief Wolfgang Bernhard, the carmaker said on Monday.

The move avoids a lengthy search for a successor to run the unit. Bernhard, 56, once seen as a candidate to succeed Daimler CEO Diete Zetsche, stepped down a year before his contract was due to expire, the carmaker said this month.

Martin Daum, 57, president and CEO of Daimler's trucks business in North America, was appointed by the company's supervisory board to top management effective on March 1 for a five-year period, Daimler said.

Daum has run Daimler's heavy-duty vehicle business in North America since 2009, having previously held a top management post at the company's European trucks division with responsibility for Daimler's huge trucks plant in Woerth, Germany.

"We are convinced that he will successfully meet the upcoming challenges in the next years," Daimler Chairman Manfred Bischoff said in an emailed statement.

Bernhard's restructuring efforts have angered powerful labor leaders, who impeded his progress at Daimler until he was too old to be considered for the top job, sources familiar with the matter have said.

In contrast the works council, whose members occupy half the seats on Daimler's 20-strong supervisory board, welcomed the appointment of Daum.

"He is collaborative," Daimler's labor boss, Michael Brecht, said by email, adding that he hoped for constructive talks as the company continues to look for cost savings.

Related reading - https://www.bigmacktrucks.com/topic/48684-major-shakeup-wolfgang-bernhard-to-leave-daimler/#comment-361232.


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Daum to replace Bernhard as head of Daimler Trucks & Buses

Fleet Owner  /  February 27, 2017

Daimler AG’s supervisory board announced Feb. 27 it has appointed Martin Daum, president and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) and a member of the board of management, to lead Daimler Trucks and Buses for five years, beginning March 1. Daum succeeds Wolfgang Bernhard, who said he is leaving the company of his own volition and for personal reasons.

“With Martin Daum, we are appointing a very successful and experienced executive to the board of management as head of the Daimler Trucks and Daimler Buses divisions,” stated Manfred Bischoff, chairman of the supervisory board of Daimler AG. “He looks back on 20 years of experience in the industry and knows the cyclical commercial-vehicle business from all perspectives. We are convinced that he will successfully meet the upcoming challenges in the next years, continue along the successful path of Daimler Trucks & Buses and further strengthen their worldwide leading positions.”

“With Martin Daum and his international management experience, the right course is being set at the top of Daimler Trucks & Buses for the long term,” stated Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “The important commercial-vehicle business in the US and in the NAFTA region has developed very successfully under the leadership of Martin Daum and is of key importance to the Daimler Group.”

Since June 2009, Daum has been president and CEO of DTNA and its affiliated companies Freightliner Trucks, Western Star Trucks, Thomas Built Buses, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation and Detroit Diesel Corporation. Before that, he was a member of the management of Mercedes-Benz Trucks in Europe as vice president production Mercedes-Benz Trucks, and at the same time was responsible for the Mercedes-Benz plant in Wörth. Daum started his career in the trainee executive group of the Daimler-Benz AG in 1987.

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In conversation with Daimler’s Martin Daum

Truck News  /  March 3, 2017

Daum reflects on time leading DTNA as he prepares to take on global responsibilities

When Martin Daum got the call from Stuttgart, Germany, asking him to take the recently vacated global position of Member of the Board of Management responsible for Daimler Trucks and Buses, he felt a sense of responsibility to accept.

“This was a difficult one,” Daum said today of the decision in a one-on-one interview with Truck News. Daum has led Daimler Trucks North America since 2009 and the company soared to new heights under his leadership. He also spoke often of his love for the North American market and life in the US.

“I would say it was the responsibility I feel,” he continued. “It started with a huge vote of confidence from (chairman of the board) Dr. Zetsche and the supervisory board. They said ‘You’re a natural candidate, you have the experience’.”

Daum’s varied background includes roles in sales, production, engineering and finance. But what he’s most proud of is the team he assembled in Portland and he credits those people with the growth Daimler achieved in North America under his watch.

“We were able to form a really high performing culture in the US and we want that around the globe,” Daum explained.

When offered the job, which opened when Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard chose to leave the company citing personal reasons, Daum saw an opportunity to give back to the organization that has entrusted him with so much responsibility over the years.

“I worked my entire life for Daimler and I owe the company,” Daum said. “I was given responsibilities, I wondered why they did that at the time. I never failed them so they had confidence in me, but that was pretty courageous. I owe the company; I’m a good soldier.”

Most, importantly, however, was the support of Daum’s family.

“My wife completely understood,” he said of the opportunity. “I wouldn’t have done it without her full support.”

Asked what he was most proud of accomplishing as head of DTNA, Daum said it’s about the “high octane” team he assembled. “Every single person, I would hire again,” he said.

Daum also credited the people involved in DTNA’s dealer network.

“When I took over, it was a pretty tense relationship (with dealers),” he acknowledged. “They agreed they would have to ramp up their game as we were going to ramp up our game.”

He added being on the edge of technology was another contributor to the brand’s growth.

“Daimler is uniquely positioned today to be a global powerhouse,” he said, “because we have the strong local brands in every single location – Japan, Brazil, Europe and North America – with their strong own engineering bases. In every one of those four regions, we could live completely independently. But how much more can we do if we link those four individual powerhouses together and benefit from each other, where not every one has to invent everything at the same time?”

He cited the US launch of the DT12 automated manual transmission as an example. But while much of the engineering that went into the design of the transmission occurred elsewhere, Daum was adamant production occur on these shores.

“That was a huge discussion,” he said about the decision to bring production to Detroit. “It took my whole authority to say, I’m not doing it for the US if I have to import, I want it localized, I want that US label.”

At the time, some thought US demand would not exceed 12,000-15,000 units.

“I think our capacity at the moment is north of 60,000 and we will need every single one for the North American market. We would love to export it to other Daimler markets but we need it here in our own market,” Daum said.

The success of the DT12 rollout is a source of pride for Daum, as it involved taking a technology developed by Daimler elsewhere and quickly and effectively bringing it to the North American market.

“It’s a singular event, but it’s a basic example of what we can do with technology,” he said. “We do it in other areas as well and you’ll see more of that. That’s the true power of Daimler globally, to have these strong local branches that can be so much stronger if they work together on a global scale.”

Asked about the unprecedented market share DTNA achieved under his leadership, Daum said it was the result of focusing on all areas of the business. If it was just a matter of pounding the table and demanding higher market share, Daum joked, every CEO would just beat the table harder.

“For me, market share is the result of great product, of listening to the customer and giving them great service in the market,” Daum said. “To have market share at that level, you have to be good at everything in every market. When I started, I remember in Germany people asking me, where should we attack? I said everywhere. Every place, every segment – vocational, on-highway, day cab, specialized, Canada, Mexico – everywhere. That is the secret. We are not done yet.”

As for the transition, Daum took his seat on the board March 1. His replacement in North America has not yet been named, but Daum said the company has many worthy successors to consider.

“I can say for sure, we have such an incredibly strong bench that I’m sure we’ll have an incredible and great successor,” Daum said.

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An exit interview with DTNA’s Martin Daum

Jim Mele, Fleet Owner  /  March 6, 2017

Promoted to run Daimler’s global truck business, he talks about his proudest achievement and favorite memory heading up Daimler Trucks North America.

On Feb. 28 Martin Daum stepped down as president and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America, and on March 1 stepped up onto an even bigger stage as the head of Daimler’s global truck and bus businesses. His new official title is member of the Daimler AG Board of Management (BOM) with responsibility for Daimler Trucks and Daimler Buses.

Along with that unwieldly title comes a corporate policy that all new BOM members refrain from public interviews and statements for their first 100 days.  But with the understanding that he couldn’t talk about future plans or strategies, Daum bent that rule a bit to give one final interview for the North American truck market where he’s lived and thrived for the past eight years.

Although his new office will be at Daimler headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, “I’m not out of the North American industry,” Daum told Fleet Owner in a telephone interview. “I made many close and dear friends here and like Wolfgang [Bernhard, former Daimler Truck head who resigned in mid-February], I will continue to be at customer events and certainly at the NACV show in Atlanta in the Fall. After all, NAFTA is one of the cornerstones of our global truck business.”

Daum also pointed out that he’s holding on to his house in Portland, OR, near DTNA’s main offices. “I really love Portland, and see us moving back to Oregon sometime in the future,” he said.

For now, though, Daum is taking the helm of a global truck company that’s given him the opportunity to experience almost every aspect of manufacturing and marketing commercial vehicles since he joined Daimler’s management development program in 1987.  “My resume includes sales, research, finance, manufacturing both in Europe and the U.S.,” he pointed out. “I bring diverse experience to the mix.”

He’ll need that experience as he tackles huge challenges like trucking’s transformation all around the world by connectivity. “We can’t be full of words and no deeds,” Daum said. “We have to develop products that make sense, that sell and make the world a better place. That’s what we’ve done [in North America] and I’m excited to try to do it now on a larger scale.”

The challenge Daum sees as he moves to that larger scale “is remaining a hungry but humble company that is highly efficient yet open to any changes the future will have in store for us.”

Looking over his last eight years, Daum said he’s proudest of working with “a dream team” at DTNA, which not only operates the Freightliner and Western Star truck manufacturing businesses, but also includes Detroit Diesel, Freightliner Custom Chassis, and Thomas Built Buses. “There’s a culture there where one plus one equals much more than two,” he said. “Everyone is able to achieve so much because everyone supports each other. That’s what I’m proudest of.”

How that culture was created is probably best illustrated by what Daum says is his favorite memory of his time at DTNA. 

“I took my top eight guys in four Cascadia sleepers and drove to the Oregon coast,” he recalled. “We dropped the trailers and took the tractors into a campground, where we broke out the grills and beer. After a wonderful evening, we all slept in the bunks – they put me with someone else who also snores.  The next day we had a strategy session on a beautiful beach, then picked up the trailers and drove back to Portland.  That was really cool.”

He can’t talk about it for 100 days, but chances are good that Daum already has a campground picked out on the banks of the Rhine.


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Daimler Trucks North America Names New President and CEO

Heavy Duty Trucking  /  March 22, 2017

Roger Nielsen has been named president and chief executive officer of Daimler Trucks North America and its affiliated companies, Freightliner, Western Star, Thomas Built Buses, and Freightliner Customer Chassis Corporation.

The appointment is effective as of April 1 and he will succeed Martin Daum who recently became a member of the board of management of Daimler AG, responsible for Daimler Trucks and Buses.

“Roger Nielsen brings a rock solid product, manufacturing and sales background to this position paired with a razor-sharp focus on technology, quality and customer service. He has an excellent track record as an influential leader in the industry,” said Daum. “Having worked closely with Roger for so many years, I am certain that DTNA, its people and all its brands are in the best hands.”

Nielsen has been the chief operating officer since 2001, responsible for the DTNA manufacturing network and all levels of operations in quality, supplier management, logistics, and custom application engineering. He has overseen Thomas Built Buses, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation, and DTNA’s continuous improvement programs.

Nielsen joined DTNA as an industrial engineer in 1986 and held various positions at DTNA in the US as well as at Daimler’s Commercial Vehicles Divisions in Germany.

“I am honored and proud to head up this great organization that I have been part of for over 30 years,” said Nielsen. “I look forward to building on the outstanding success achieved by the DTNA team under Martin’s leadership. Together, we will continue our dedication to delivering the best products and services to our North American customers.”


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Nielsen tapped to replace Daum at DTNA

Fleet Owner  /  March 22, 2017

Longtime company veteran has served as DTNA’s chief operating officer since 2001.

Roger Nielsen will be taking the reins at Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) as president and CEO effective April 1 this year, replacing Martin Daum who moved up to become a member of the board of management and head of Daimler Trucks and Buses at DTNA’s parent company,  Germany’s Daimler AG, back on March 1.

Nielsen, 56, will also oversee DTNA’s affiliated companies, which includes Freightliner Trucks, Western Star Trucks, Thomas Built Buses, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) and Detroit Diesel Corp.

“Roger Nielsen brings a rock solid product, manufacturing and sales background to this position paired with a razor-sharp focus on technology, quality and customer service,” Daum said in a statement. “He has an excellent track record as an influential leader in the industry.”

Nielsen joined DTNA – then named Freightliner Corp. – back in 1986 as an industrial engineer and since then has held various positions for the company both in the U.S. and abroad at Daimler’s commercial vehicles divisions in Germany. For the last 16 years, he’s served as DTNA’s chief operating officer.

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