For Theissen, it’s a jump across divisions; he was previously head of overseas sales, one of the company’s three global regions, alongside Germany and Europe. In his new post, he joins 13 other heads of the larger markets within Europe. Smaller markets use indirect distributors, he explains.
Speaking in late June, he says that he hopes the COVID-19 crisis will soon subside; he says that in that month the company started to see the first upturn in truck order volumes since the start of the pandemic. If that recovery continues, then the company will focus on what he calls ‘ambitious’ sales targets and objectives. “We intend to remain dominant players among our competitors in the truck market,” he states.
The brand’s speciality has been offering a high standard of quality in innovative trucks for 125 years, Theissen states. Important aspects include technology development in connectivity, safety and autonomy, but also fuel efficiency and uptime.
Mercedes-Benz aims to have a broad offering in many markets, he adds, without being over-reliant on a single one. “The market segments that suit us are where safety and efficiency are appreciated by customers.” He cites the Actros tractor, with active braking technology, and Econic, whose cabin has strong Direct Vision ratings, as two examples.
The current UK market situation requires a balance between strategic thinking and operational focus: the former because of Brexit and the risk of import tariffs, and the latter because of the social distancing challenges posed by COVID-19, Theissen says.
Over the years, the new MD has been involved in setting a number of corporate strategies at the OEM. He explains their importance like this: “If you would really like to be sustainable in your success, you always need to keep up with the ability to allow questions for your behaviour and what you are going to do. Whether that’s now called tactical or strategic, it is definitely needed.”
One example was the decision to split van and truck operations, which the company enacted in corporate structure in 2019. Theissen was involved in that. He explains the logic: “I truly believe that any business should serve its customers in the best way. If you look at the truck industry, we have many different customers who always ask for a tailor-made treatment. They have a certain kind of business and a specific need, and reach out for those kind of measures that build up to that desire or requirement in the best way. Therefore we clearly think it’s the right way to give as much dedication to the product as possible. On the other side – don’t be silly – we still work closely with our van colleagues. There are synergies to take into account in terms of spare part logistics and in our dealer network.”
As for the 60-strong independent dealer network, he calls that one of the brand’s pillars of strength, alongside its UK staff, based in its Milton Keynes head office and Wentworth Park, Barnsley, home of the used trucks operation and a new customer experience centre for truck and technology demonstrations.
As regards truck sales, he predicts a melding of product and services into a combined offering. And that will require greater qualification of its staff, he confirms, technically and personally. “Let’s say you’re a sales executive, talking predominantly about the technical features of a truck, you may merge more into [the role of] business consultant, showing the benefits of the truck and services for customers.”
Changed the reference of Arocs tractor with active brake assist to Actros; corrected the spelling of his name; changed his job title from MD of Mercedes-Benz UK.