USA: Cat dealers gear up for highway truck launch

Caterpillar has said that its North American Cat Dealer network will be fully prepared to offer whole-truck service and sales support for the company’s first ever Cat Vocational Truck, the Cat CT660. Since announcing the new line of on-highway Class 8 Cat Trucks in 2008, personnel at all 54 U.S. and Canadian Dealerships, including their over 400 service locations and 2,300 service bays, have been engaged in intense training to ensure they are ready to meet customers’ product support needs for the trucks.

The capabilities Dealers have been adding to provide customers with bumper-to-bumper support are a natural extension of their existing truck capabilities and expertise, according to the Director of the On-Highway Truck Group, George Taylor, who leads the design, development and launch of the new trucks.

Taylor said, “Caterpillar and Cat Dealers already had extensive experience supporting on-highway customers from our 40-plus-year history of serving the truck industry, especially with powertrains.”

“Cat Dealers are excited about the new Cat Trucks and thrilled to make them available to customers,” he added. “Dealers have also shown extraordinary dedication to ramping up their facilities and expanding sales and service support capabilities to meet truck customer needs.”

Manager of Strategy and Dealer Development, Ed Cullen has been working closely with Cat Dealers as they’ve been gearing up to spec, sell and service the new trucks. “Customers can count on exceptional product support,” Cullen said. “That means service support at Dealer facilities and in the field from Caterpillar, Dealer mobile service teams and the 24/7 Cat Truck Call Center. It also means expert consulting assistance from Dealers when it comes to spec’ing truck options, so customers order exactly the trucks they want and need for their specific job application and work environment.”

According to Kerry Miller, Truck Business Manager at Cat Dealership Carter Machinery, which serves Virginia and southern West Virginia, their Dealership has taken an inter-departmental approach to ensure they have the processes in place to drive efficiencies.

“From sales to parts to service to any group impacted by the truck—and that’s everyone,” Miller said, “we’re all involved and engaged, and working hard to prepare, including our training department that has really stepped up to make sure our sales team and technicians are ready.” He also said training and support provided by Caterpillar is helping all Cat Dealerships be prepared and ready to go.

“Our preparation plan has been focused on truck uptime and preventive maintenance,” Miller explained. “We also have the infrastructure in place to support these trucks bumper-to-bumper through on-site service, with 120 bays in over a dozen shops and from our field service trucks. So we’ll be more than prepared to offer a whole-truck solution for customers.”

Glenn Keenan is the Vice President of Power Systems at Toromont, with 26 locations that cover Ontario, Manitoba, Nunavut, Newfoundland and most of Labrador, Canada. Keenan said, “When we committed to going down this path, we did a skills’ assessment of our technicians. We were pleasantly surprised at how skilled and prepared our technicians already were for servicing Cat Trucks from bumper-to-bumper.”

According to Keenan, Toromont has also been hiring truck technicians, mechanics with specialized expertise in chassis, transmissions, engines and axles, and the Dealership already had most of the infrastructure in place to service Cat Trucks, including 100-plus service bays. “We can actually offer customers a broader range of services because we’ve got great depth in dyno and chassis service capabilities,” he said. “Basically, we already work on ‘things on the back end’ of the truck that require hydraulics or welding.”

Keenan also said, “As we’ve been preparing, we’ve actually changed the complexion of our Dealership. And we are in a good spot to source all-chassis.”

Rocky McKay is the Truck Product Support Manager at the Empire Cat Dealership, which serves Arizona, Southeastern California and portions of Northern Mexico. According to McKay, to get ready for whole-truck support, Empire has been busy rounding out service capabilities. He said they’ve been doing more bumper-to-bumper, preventive maintenance preparation and training, along with hiring sales consultants and service technicians that already have a great deal of truck experience. “We’ve also been stocking parts, and we have the right tooling in place,” McKay said. “So we’re in a great spot.”

He added, “Our equipment customers who buy Cat Trucks can expect the same ‘routines’ and processes Empire has developed over the years based on customer preferences. It’s not as if we’re some OEM that just popped up over night—we’re an established company. So our customers don’t need to be concerned about Empire being ready to support Cat Trucks. We are.”

According to Taylor, since Cat Dealers have been working to meet the Cat Equipment needs of customers for decades, Dealers know the demands and understand the challenges customers face. “I think one of the main reasons Dealers are so excited about our new line of vocational trucks is because they realize these trucks are going to help customers succeed,” Taylor said.

The trucks complement other Cat Equipment, and Dealers recognize how important the trucks will be to customers in handling the demands of their jobsites and the work they do. So it’s really no surprise Dealers are working so hard to make sure they’re well-prepared to offer the same level of support for the trucks that customers have come to expect for all Cat products.”

About Cat Vocational Trucks
Cat Vocational Trucks will be sold and serviced exclusively through the Cat North American Dealer network, with production beginning after CONEXPO for customer delivery later in the year. The Class 8 vocational trucks will offer custom solutions, including many different body types like dump, refuse, hauler and mixer, for a large variety of job applications.

Product Manager Gary Blood said, “We’re really looking forward to seeing the reaction to the CT660 and releasing more details about its features and benefits at our unveiling.”

Australian Cat truck dealer, William Adams delivers a Cat CT630 Hobart based transporter, SRT Logistics.

Already operating in Australia and Brazil
Through the JV company, NC2, the first Cat highway trucks were launched into Australia towards the end of 2010. However, the company did emphasise that the trucks were design and built for Australia conditions, thereby implying that the trucks for North America could be somewhat different.