March 2, 2020 12:15 AM, EST

DTNA Reorganizes Business Into On-Highway, Vocational Segments

Daimler trucks Daimler

[Stay on top of transportation news: Get TTNews in your inbox.]

Daimler Trucks North America is reorganizing its business into two segments, on-highway and vocational, in an effort to better meet the needs of fleet customers in both categories.

Through this realignment, the manufacturer of Freightliner and Western Star trucks is shifting from a brand-centric approach to an application-driven focus.

“Both segments — the on-highway segment and the vocational segment — deserve our equal support,” CEO Roger Nielsen said. “As we set ourselves up for the next decade, we think this is a great way for us to continue on our road to success.”



DTNA executives outlined the new strategy in a Feb. 26 meeting with about 500 dealer principals in Las Vegas.

In conjunction with this new market approach, DTNA announced new roles for the leadership teams at Freightliner and Western Star.

Richard Howard, senior vice president of sales and marketing, now assumes responsibility for DTNA’s complete on-highway business as the senior vice president for on-highway sales and marketing.

At the same time, David Carson, president of Western Star, transitions to the role of senior vice president for vocational sales and marketing. In his new role, Carson assumes responsibility for all vocational trucks at DTNA.

Richard Howard


“The structures we’ve had in the past have served us well, but when we have an eye to the future, it became very clear that we needed to change our organizational structures to match our strategic goals and aspirations,” Howard said.

This change in DTNA’s market strategy reflects the distinct requirements of the two segments, Carson added. “A vocational customer is very different from an on-highway customer.”

DTNA said it will continue to maintain and support both of its truck brands equally, but the company sees opportunities to streamline its operations — and the customer experience — by focusing first on the application instead of the individual brand.

For example, a dealer franchised for both Freightliner and Western Star may have customers interested in learning more about vehicles from both brands in areas where there is overlap.

Prior to this reorganization, that meant dealers would have to reach out to two separate contacts and navigate two separate processes to get answers for that customer.

Now, DTNA support staff will be able to provide those answers for a given application regardless of the nameplate on the hood, which helps shield the customer from potential delays.

Meanwhile, DTNA’s aftermarket business will support both the on-highway and vocational segments as it works to put customers’ trucks back on the road within a day for most service issues.

“Aftermarket is clearly here to help and enable both brands and both segments to be successful,” said Stefan Kurschner, DTNA’s senior vice president of aftermarket. “We want to get the trucks out in 24 hours or less for both brands, for both segments.”

DTNA announced several other executive appointments as part of its realignment.

David Carson


Drew Backeberg, an 18-year veteran of DTNA, assumes the newly created position of vice president of on-highway sales. He will lead the dealer sales business for on-highway products, including the Freightliner Cascadia model, the Western Star 5700 and certain M2 applications such as pick-up and delivery.

Brian Cota will continue to lead a national accounts team as vice president of national accounts, and will focus on growth strategies for DTNA’s on-highway fleet business.

Peter Arrigoni, who joined DTNA in 2016, has been promoted to the new position of vice president of vocational sales. His team is responsible for all DTNA vocational product lines, including the Western Star 4700, 4800, 4900 and 6900 models, as well as the Freightliner EconicSD, 108SD, 114SD, 122SD and the M2 for vocational applications.

Richard Saward will lead a national accounts team for the vocational segment as vice president of vocational national accounts.

Meanwhile, Kary Schaefer will lead the marketing and product strategy teams for both the on-highway and vocational segments, including Freightliner, Western Star and Detroit products.

Reporting to Schaefer are Samantha Parlier, vice president of vocational market development, and Kelly Gedert, vice president of on-highway market development.

Want more news? Listen to today's daily briefing: