Spartan Announces Reorganization at FDIC 2012

Chris Mc Loone

Fire departments beginning the specification writing process for new apparatus will notice a few changes at Spartan Motors, Inc. Using its new Telstar aerial with articulating boom on display at FDIC 2012 as a stage, John Sztykiel, president and CEO, announced the company’s global emergency response strategy he expects to serve as the foundation for the company’s continued growth in the North American and global marketplace. Additionally, Sztykiel announced global partnerships with Gimaex and Renault. The most visible change to customers will be a new brand that replaces Crimson-Fire-Spartan ERV.

One Brand

Spartan has replaced the Crimson brand with Spartan ERV and has appointed Dennis Schneider, Crimson-Fire’s vice president, to lead the new operation as president. Sztykiel says, “The vision [for Spartan ERV] is redefining global emergency response leadership; one brand, being Spartan; being global in how we operate and who we work with; market-changing innovation in the product and the process; and being lean-eliminating waste in all that we do and how we operate.” Schneider adds, “We are going to reinforce that we exist to satisfy our customers. And, we will be serving more customers in markets outside North America.”

According to Schneider and Tom Gorman, chief operating officer, the process to rebrand Crimson started more than six months ago. “His job was to drive this quickly and decisively to completion,” Gorman says of Schneider. Gorman adds, “It’s difficult to build two brands. And, to be up against names that have been around for 100 years, it was an uphill battle.” Schneider concludes, “You want to play to your strengths. Spartan is one of the most readily recognizable brands in the industry. So, we are leveraging Spartan.”

Spartan will continue to sell chassis to OEMs that do not manufacture their own custom chassis. “As we went out and talked to our OEM customers and partners, we talked about expanding that relationship, broadening it,” says Schneider. “We offered them some really neat things. For chassis, we offer a two-year bumper-to-bumper warranty. We decided to extend the long-term agreements that were implemented in December. So we said, ‘We’re not going away. As a matter of fact, we want to do more for you.’ We want to have strong relationships with all of our partners-the end users, the dealers, our supply base, as well as people like Gimaex and Renault. We know we have to earn that. You earn that over time by being a good partner.”

(1) In front of the platform of Spartan ERV's Telstar aerial with articulating boom, John Sztykiel (center), president and CEO of Spartan Motors, Inc. introduces Stefano Chmielewski (left), vice president of Volvo government sales, parent company of Renault, and Philippe Mis (right), Chairman of Gimaex Worldwide.
(1) In front of the platform of Spartan ERV’s Telstar aerial with articulating boom, John Sztykiel (center), president and CEO of Spartan Motors, Inc. introduces Stefano Chmielewski (left), vice president of Volvo government sales, parent company of Renault, and Philippe Mis (right), Chairman of Gimaex Worldwide. (Photo by author.)

Emergency response vehicles are a big part of Spartan’s business-greater than one third. That being the case, Schneider says, “We’re committed to this [market]. We’re not going anywhere.”

Schneider also outlined several avenues for growth. “We’re going to grow this business through organic leads, alliances, partnerships, as well as acquisitions if they make sense,” he says. “We’re not out looking for them, but if we found something that would make sense, we are in a position to consider that.”

Operating on a Global Stage

Sztykiel says the fire industry is beginning to address global technology and how to adopt it in the United States. “The technology we see in use in Europe isn’t going to work in the States in its original configuration,” he says. “But, you have to figure out the right idea and how to modify it to fit the needs of customers in North America. As we do that, the competition will see what we’re doing, we’ll see what the competition is doing, and I think during the next three to five years collectively elevate product offerings and have lower cost vehicles that can perform more runs. We are optimistic that this, combined with the pent up demand, will drive us past 5,500 units per year.”

Spartan also made a few announcements at FDIC about how it is pursuing the global market.

First, it will execute a shared strategic vision with French company Gimaex, a top-five global leader with a “reputation for development and manufacture of cutting-edge products for the emergency response (ER) industry,” according to Spartan. The company expects Spartan’s strength in North America to provide Gimaex with a solid partner for the future. Collaboration between the two companies will include technology sharing, joint product development, commercial agreements, additional purchasing clout, and leveraging development and build costs as global sales opportunities present themselves. The Telstar aerial, introduced at FDIC, is an example of this collaboration.

Spartan and Gimaex also have complementary geographic, engineering, and production footprints that they expect to allow them to build a true global presence.

The company also plans to collaborate with Renault Trucks to develop new opportunities and products for the North American ER marketplace. One such opportunity is the Spartan R XO concept cab/chassis, an all-wheel-drive commercial chassis with high clearance and maneuverability.

Sztykiel says its global targets include South America, Asia/Pacific, and select middle-eastern markets. “As economies continue to progress and develop, the demand for ER services increases,” says Sztykiel. “Collectively, it is very much a growth market, so we are focused on expanding both our global presence and the scope of our domestic offerings.”

CHRIS Mc LOONE, associate editor of Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment, is an 18-year veteran of the fire service and a captain with Weldon Fire Company (Glenside, PA). He has been a writer and editor for more than 15 years. While with Fire Engineering, he contributed to the May 2006 issue, a Jesse H. Neal Award winner for its coverage of the Hurricane Katrina response and recovery.

At FDIC 2012, Dennis Schneider, president of Spartan ERV, announced details of a new two-year, 36,000-mile warranty on Spartan chassis parts and components. The Spartan Chassis limited warranty covers repair or replacement of any new Spartan chassis purchased in the United States or Canada in which a defect materials or workmanship appears during normal use, maintenance, or service within the limited warranty period. Under the terms of the warranty, repair or replacement of covered parts must be performed by a Spartan-authorized service center. Schneider says, “The high quality and proven design of our products have allowed Spartan to extend this level of protection to our customers.”

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