LiuGong is pushing hard to boost its profile in North America
Marc Dowdell, president LiuGong Construction Machinery, North America
“The theme of the Conexpo booth this year is to introduce LiuGong as a full line OEM Supplier to the North American market. We’ve also introduced our Tier 4 engines on our dozer range, as well as our skid steers and we’ve also announced our entry into the 50tonne excavator market with the 950A,” said Marc Dowdell, president LiuGong Construction Machinery, North America.
“The North American market is relatively stable or flat compared to last year, which saw an artificial blip due to the build-up from contractors as they “re-fleeted” after the recession. With LiuGong, as long as the industry is stable or flat, we’re capable of taking market share whilst expanding our distribution network. We saw significant growth last year and the year before and we see further growth opportunities for the year ahead.”
The completion of a state-of-the- art LiuGong HQ in North America, close to the interim facility in Katy, Texas, will be a reality in 18-24 months.
“We have identified a 35acre plot of land to build our component facility and headquarters. This facility will not only hold parts and warehouse logistics, but a complete training centre, a shop, fabrication and assembly capabilities, and an equipment demonstration area and equipment storage. An equipment proving ground is something I’m very, very excited about,” said Dowdell.
“We are in North Hall at Conexpo because we believe the performance of our machinery is equal to that of any of the other players in the industry. We’re here to stand by side with the major brands, so when customers walk through their booths and then walk over and see the quality of our equipment, the quality we’ve built in and the performance, they will better understand our value proposition.
“Chinese products were heavily criticised when they first came onto the US market, but we’ve been on the market for six years now and we have a dedicated team to help develop the products to be competitive on the western markets, from the perspective of finish and productivity. Recently we hired two product specialists from North America, one dedicated to the development of wheel loaders, the other to hydraulic excavator developments. Their role is strictly to communicate back to our R&D people in China to ensure we are developing state-of-the-art equipment that meets the demands of our fairly vigorous market place,” he said.
“I wouldn’t say that our growth has come at the expense of any one brand. Our product philosophy is to be a full line OEM and to properly manage the complete equipment life cycle. We target certain areas where we think we’ll be successful, obviously as one of the leading, if not the leading wheel loader manufacturer in the world, we’ve got great heritage there, and great performance in that space. The introduction of the larger sized excavators has also been good for us.
“So basically our value proposition is that we’re based here in North America, we have a lot of local staff as well as Chinese staff in support roles. We’ve got parts on hand and a commitment to the market place and we’re building it step by step through a solid base and foundation of distribution.
“Conexpo 2017, I would hope introducing a motor grader for the North American market. We currently manufacture motor graders for other markets and a design team is in place today, working hand in hand with our R&D department in China. We’ll also have a full line comprehensive of skid steers including track-led skid steers and we’ll also reintroduce our loader backhoe to Tier 4 Final at the end of this year,” said Dowdell.
“As far as telematics is concerned I think our approach should be universal. At a recent AEM meeting a large global contractor spoke, he complained that each supplier had different telematics and with none of them speaking to each other.
So for fleet managers and fleet use I think the key is going to be versatility so an existing contractor can bolt your system in and interface. That's going to be a challenge for all manufacturers,” he said.