Shake-up for Daimler in Australia

Daimler Trucks here in Australia has gone through a change at the top as a part of global management restructure, throughout the group. The various brands and functions within the group will now be overseen by a series of General Managers. The Daimler Truck and Bus Australia/Pacific is now included in the remit of Daimler Trucks North America, based in Portland Oregon and controlling Freightliner and Western Star across North America.

The changes see a number of new faces appearing in management positions at Daimler and some familiar faces are now working under new titles, some with adjusted remits. The changes see the organisation separated from the Mercedes Benz car importing and selling operation.

The changes include the introduction of a new Managing Director in charge of the truck business. Australian, Daniel Whitehead, takes over the role from Kolja Rebstock. Whitehead has been working within the Daimler Group in Hong Kong and China for some years and now returns to his homeland with his young family. Rebstock heads home to Germany and the Stuttgart headquarters of Mercedes Benz to take up a job with its truck and van division in Asia, Africa and Central and Eastern Europe.

Coming into the organisation from a role at Daimler Trucks North America is Kristi Walker, who is now the General Manager of Freightliner. She has been involved in sales and operations at Freightliner, including a period as Australia/Pacific market manager.

Responsibility for the Mercedes Truck brand has now passed to new General Manager of Mercedes Benz Truck and Bus, Justin Whitford. He has moved across from being responsible for the German brand’s bus business to a more wide ranging role.

The man in charge of the Fuso brand and its future has not changed but his job title has. Richard Eyre has been at the helm of the Japanese truck brand for some time, but is now to be charatcerised as the General Manager of Fuso.

Another manager associated with a single brand for a long time, Gary Wheatley is now the General Manager of Dealer Development and Marketing covering all of the brands in the group.

“The Daimler Trucks restructure is a big step towards greater brand dedication and improved customer focus,” said Wheatley. “I look forward to working with the rest of the management team to ensure ongoing success for the Daimler Trucks network.

The changes reflect a need within these massive global businesses for a regular refresh to their structure and philosophy. Often these changes mean very little to the truck buyer and the personnel they deal with directly. However, it does give the brand a chance to refresh the people at the top of the organisation and the timing seems to line up with Kolja Rebstock’s return to Europe.

While Fuso continues to perform quite strongly in its market segments, the Freightliner brand has had limited success extending on the strong showing of Argosy and Mercedes Benz is regarded and under-performing when compared to its European rivals. Perhaps this new new focus may bring change.