Relationships Are What Matter Most

By Friedrich Baumann

President, Sales, Marketing & Aftersales

Throughout history, the transportation industry has been the backbone of our economic growth. From the simplest ox cart to the most advanced International® LT® Series, we supply the demand by bringing the world’s goods to the marketplace. In this sense, at Navistar, we don’t just build trucks – we build relationships. We make it our job to continuously strengthen these relationships by enabling our customers to be successful. Our brands and our dealers grow when our customers do.

The strength of these mutually beneficial relationships ultimately comes down to trust and a shared sense of purpose. We must be in agreement regarding where we want to go and what we are willing to do.

Why do these seemingly old-fashioned values matter today? Because while the world is changing around us, the relationships that underpin our success do not.

It’s easy to see that the industry is being disrupted from many directions – different propulsion systems, autonomous driving, new levels of connectivity and a high degree of data analytics. We are using these technologies to better position Navistar for the future. But change, even using the best new technologies, introduces a degree of uncertainty – that’s where business relationships come in. When we can count on each other to do the right thing, it brings a measure of trust and stability that helps us navigate the crosswinds.  

For our Navistar team, this sense of doing the right thing is spelled out in our purpose statement: reimagining how to deliver what matters. From a sales and marketing perspective, it is the relationship that matters. This focuses on the relationship between Navistar – our employees and our dealers – and how we serve our joint customers.

This unified sense of purpose builds the foundation for cooperation and collaboration within the trucking ecosystem we share – because that’s what matters.

Further, if we agree that our relationships are what matter, our purpose statement challenges us to reimagine how we deliver on that promise. This compels us to add value at each connection point in the relationship – with employees, with supplier partners, with our dealers and ultimately with our customers.

These relationships cannot be merely transactional but need to be strategic partnerships especially with our dealers who are ambassadors for our brands. We must understand our dealers’ businesses and proactively develop the tools that will make them successful in serving our joint customers.

Three years ago, we established the Vision 2025 platform that strategically aligns the efforts of Navistar with the International® Truck and IC Bus® dealer network. Our vision is to support the success of our customers who rely on our products and services. It encourages a better together mentality. And it clearly spells out how we can combine our efforts to be the most customer-centric, innovative, and value-creating truck and bus solutions provider in the Americas, backed by the most capable dealer network.

Applying technology and innovation is critical in fulfilling this vision. It is not enough to sell a top-quality truck to our customers. As proactive partners, we need to support their business. We do not just sell a consumer product, but a commercial solution.

To phrase this in terms of our shared purpose, we could say that, by reimagining new technologies, we can deliver more of what matters to our joint customers: more up time; improved performance; greater transparency; and streamlined processes that simplify how we work together.

Here’s a specific example of how technology helps build our customer relationships. Navistar’s Intelligent Fleet Care is the industry's most comprehensive standard suite of connected vehicle solutions. It builds on the track record we established with the groundbreaking OnCommand® Connection platform. This provides a long menu of fleet management tools using advanced telematics and remote diagnostics. But it is unique in the industry for one reason: unlike every other OEM, we provide a single-source view for all makes in the customer’s fleet – not just for our own brands. We do this because it makes things easier for our fleet customers to manage the total cost of ownership for all their trucks. Because that’s what matters to them!

Another way Navistar’s shared purpose strengthens our relationships is by making us all part of one winning team. People naturally want to be part of something bigger than themselves. We are asking every one of our 12,000 employees and each person within our exceptional dealer network to join our customer-centric movement. This means that each individual commits to defining their role in terms of our shared purpose – to connect what they do with our customers’ success. This is “living our purpose.”

As we reimagine how to deliver what matters, we are adopting the mindset of leaders who see challenges but think opportunities, so we are poised to quickly adapt to our industry disruptors.

We know change is coming; that’s why our relationships matter more than ever. They are the constant. They solidify our purpose. Technologies will come and go, but as long as they make our relationships stronger, more productive, more profitable, and more resilient in the face of change, they will bring immeasurable value.

This is how we will lead the industry, through solid, trust-based relationships. Our trucking ecosystem, our greater Navistar OEM and dealer family, is driving progress the only way we can – together.