It was one hell of a swan song, but Peter Voorhoeve’s parting gift to the country he has called home for the past five years is a $30 million national HQ for the Volvo Group in Australia and a large scale investment in the corporation’s manufacturing operations in this country.
Alongside his boss, Volvo Group’s global president and CEO, Martin Lundstedt and Queensland premier Anastasia Palaszczuk, Voorhoeve today oversaw the opening of the new facility which he and Lundstedt broke the first sod on two and a half years ago.
The opening of the new Volvo HQ comes at the end of Voorhoeve’s tenure as boss of the local Volvo operation as he heads to America to take up his new role as president of Volvo Trucks North America.
Like the investment announced by PACCAR in Melbourne the day before the opening of the VGA HQ, the new office plus the investment program in its Wacol manufacturing plant, is another huge vote of confidence in the future of complex manufacturing in this country.
Martin Lundstedt said the investment in the Wacol plant in particular, will enable the Group to further increase production, signalling the company’s strong future outlook.
“Our increase in market share towards 27 per cent over the past five years, in combination with a strong heavy duty truck market, makes it necessary to further increase our production capacity,” said Lundstedt.
“In the past five years alone, production at our Wacol plant has increased by 40 per cent.
Lundstedt went on to say that investing in Wacol, just down the road from the new national HQ will, he believes, help grow the company’s 27 per cent market share and be a boost to the 85 or so local component suppliers.
When Voorhoeve came to Australia Volvo had around 23 per cent market share and he and his team have grown that corporate share by
around four per cent in the half decade he has been here.
Voorhoeve says the mantra of ‘service, service, service’ has been the cornerstone of his success at VGA and set the path for strong market success.
Volvo has been assembling trucks in Australia since 1972 building 60,000 trucks in that time and now directly employs 1500 people across the country.
Around 200 of those Volvo staff how work under the one roof at the new 33,000 square metre HQ facility and flagship dealership at the Westgate Metroplex park alongside the Ipswich Motorway in Wacol while another 500 work down the road at the Volvo Group manmufacturing plant.
Premier Palaszczuk described Volvo’s commitment to Queensland as a significant part of the state’s manufacturing base and was a vote of confidence in the future of the state and its economic strength.
“Volvo Group is the only truck manufacturer to be awarded ‘Australian Made’ certification and we are particularly proud to call them Queensland made,” Palaszczuk said.
As Voorhoeve departs on 1 September to the USA to be replaced in Australia by Scotsman Martin Merrick, the lanky, outgoing Dutchman says new national HQ is an energising space which will inspire Volvo staff to greater things.
“It is a beautiful building but more than that it is a tangible demonstration of Volvo Group’s commitment to its future operations in Australia,” said Voorhoeve.
There will be plenty of words written about Voorhoeve’s legacy in Australia and the long lasting tangible elements will live on in the new HQ and expanded factory. However many inside the organisation will say the greater legacy will be the cultural shift to a more customer centric focus that has resulted in greater sales volume and market share for the Swedish company.
More than anything Volvo Group’s success under Voorhoeve has spurred rival PACCAR along and almost certainly helped that corporation make similar investment commitments as outlined in our separate story on that.
From Truck and Bus News’ perspective Voorhoeve will be missed for his openness, frankness and decisive attitude. Its fair to say his successor Martin Merrick will have a big shoes to fill. Martin Lundstedt assures us Merrick will have no trouble filling those shoes and marching VGA even further forward in the future. Like a lot of things, only time will tell.