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June 19, 2012  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

New execs bring ‘fresh eyes’ to IC Bus

Over the past year, the school bus manufacturer has assembled a leadership team that is instilling new ideas into the business — from manufacturing improvements to sales and marketing strategies.

by Thomas McMahon - Also by this author

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From left: Dennis Huffmon, Dan Cutter, Greg Hutchison and Kathy Seegebrecht.

From left: Dennis Huffmon, Dan Cutter, Greg Hutchison and Kathy Seegebrecht.

Change is in the air at IC Bus.

The school and commercial bus manufacturer — along with parent company Navistar — recently moved its corporate headquarters from Warrenville, Ill., to a state-of-the-art building in nearby Lisle.

In late April, Navistar announced that it will develop and distribute school buses in China under a new agreement with Chinese truck maker JAC.

The companies will collaborate on a number of school bus opportunities, including potentially importing IC Bus™ brand school buses into China (see story on pg. 14).

Changes have also come at the executive level. Over the past year, the company has assembled a new leadership team that is bringing fresh ideas and strategies to the school bus business.

SBF Executive Editor Thomas McMahon spoke with the new team — Dennis Huffmon, Kathy Seegebrecht, Dan Cutter and Greg Hutchison — who discussed such topics as leadership, school bus marketing, sales strategies and manufacturing improvements.

Team approach
Last year, Dennis Huffmon was named vice president and general manager for IC Bus U.S. and Canada, a role in which he leads the company’s school bus and commercial bus businesses for these countries.

Huffmon is accountable for the financial performance of the businesses and has responsibility for strategic planning, business development, sales, distribution and manufacturing. He has more than 10 years of experience with Navistar, including an earlier stint in the IC Bus group.

According to Huffmon, bringing in talented new leaders has put “fresh eyes on the business.”

“First and foremost, it’s about people,” he says. “And I look for people who understand it’s a team game. It’s a relatively small organization, and I realize that we’re going to be filling in for each other in a lot of different aspects and weighing in on each other’s ideas.”

Huffmon says that when he thinks of the business at a very high level, if there is one plan, it is “to be market share leaders for another 10 years in a row. When you achieve that, a lot of other things fall into place.”

But, he notes, “nothing starts without an order.” And that’s where Dan Cutter comes in.

Empowering staff
Cutter joined IC Bus in January as vice president of school bus sales. He came to the bus division from Navistar’s Workhorse® chassis brand.

In his new role, Cutter is responsible for yellow bus sales in the U.S. and Canada. He oversees a staff of regional sales managers, and he says it’s important that they have decision-making power out in the field.

“Each market is different,” Cutter notes. “Each member on the team is able to make the right decisions. We have to trust in the people on our teams and our dealers. They’ll always have my support and backing.”

A key focus for Cutter is accountability.

“Everybody talks about it; nobody lives it,” he says. “As a sales team, we’re going to live it out.”

Cutter points out that he equates accountability to customer satisfaction.

“The customer has a list of requirements,” he says. “It’s up to us to hold everyone accountable who touches the customer.”

Customer input
For Kathy Seegebrecht, a key part of her mission is bringing the voice of the customer to the sales and product teams.

In January, Seegebrecht was named vice president of marketing for Navistar’s global bus division. She previously served as vice president of marketing for Navistar’s parts group.

Seegebrecht says that it’s vital to talk to the customers and find out “what’s working, what should be different.”

“It’s different from the auto industry in that people in the bus industry care a whole lot less about what it looks like,” she says. “They’re more interested in functionality. We have to know what features are important to them.”

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