In first meeting with press, new Volvo president Weissburg highlights innovation, discusses recent transactions

Marcia Doyle Headshot
Updated Mar 6, 2014
New Volvo CE president Martin Weissburg meets with the press at ConExpo 2014.New Volvo CE president Martin Weissburg meets with the press at ConExpo 2014.

In his first comments to the press after taking the reins as president of Volvo Construction Equipment on January 1, Martin Weissburg noted his unhappiness with the company’s current financial status but highlighted forward thinking and discussed two of the company’s recent transactions.

“While we’re not pleased with our recent financial results, we’re focusing on gaining share, improving profitability, putting a greater emphasis on innovation and reducing production costs,” Weissburg said at ConExpo 2014.

“We are not waiting and will not wait for market growth to solve this for us.”

Volvo views 2014 as relatively flat throughout the world, with its outlook for North America remaining at plus-or-minus 5 percent growth; the company views both western Europe and China as seeing 0 to 10 percent growth for the year.

During 2013, the company’s full-year sales fell by 16 percent to $8.2 billion (53.4 billion SEK) while operating income plummeted 54 percent to $399 million (2.6 billion SEK).

Before becoming president of the company, Weissburg served as the president of Volvo Financial Services, bringing with him a deep understanding of the equipment business due to his dealings with dealers.

When asked about the company’s sale of Volvo Rents last year, Weissburg says the sale doesn’t “change our approach to the rental market; our dealers are still in the rental business.” And BlueLine Rental, the retail company set up by the equity group that bought Volvo Rents, remains a major buyer of Volvo compact equipment.

Weissburg said past decisions are now seeing fruits, including the acquisition of Chinese wheel loader manufacturer SDLG, which he calls a “wonderful investment.”

He also addressed the company’s acquisition of the Terex truck business saying, “Adding the Terex trucks will be a good fit into the brand scenario, and help maintain a strong position in China.”

Questioned as to whether Volvo would add heavier excavators to match the rigid frame trucks that came with the Terex deal, Weissburg declined to comment on future product development.