Have machine bosses got the wind up them?

Greg Whitaker wonders what's going on with all the boardroom shuffling

COMMENT, PMV

“The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects it to change and the realist adjusts the sails,” wrote William Arthur Ward at one time. Whether we like it or not, there is a wind of change blowing through the boardrooms of heavy equipment industry at the moment.

As you’ll read elsewhere on this newsletter, the CEO of JCB is to step down after about a year and a half in the role, while Jim Owens, the big boss at Caterpillar, is also going to be retiring shortly. Elsewhere this month, it has been all change at Terex AWP, and there have been a variety of local movements.

The question is, what do these firms have to gain by shifting management about? For some it might buoy up the stock price and bring some new ideas as to how to stem the drop in orders that has been felt by all manufacturers. This is of no practical benefit to plant managers of course. What we all want to see is a variety of innovative and new products which can bring the industry forward into the second decade of the twenty-first century. Last year we were constantly being told by all the major companies that they had some brilliant, fuel saving, safer and better looking machines just waiting in the wings. Unfortunately, with the downturn, most firms seem to have pulled their horns in.

With the new managers, we hope to see a reversal of this strategy, and be able to report on all kinds of new developments coming from the world’s R&D departments. Kites fly against the wind, not into it – to misquote another famous orator.

Which brings me nicely to the subject of the Big 5 PMV expo later this month. Hopefully, there will be an interesting number of new machines and product launches to tell you all about, but whatever happens, I’ll be helping to write the official daily newspaper at the event – so if there is anything you’d like to see, just drop me a line.

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