Spartan’s Sztykiel—Gaining Momentum Against the Gorilla

By Chris Mc Loone

In the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment “Fire Industry Today” column, John Sztykiel, president and CEO of Spartan Motors, has discussed how the fire service has been “wrestling the Gorilla”—the economy. At FDIC 2014, I had a chance to sit down with John and discuss how we are faring against the gorilla now. “I think right now the gorilla is still winning the match,” he says. “From the Spartan perspective, we have done a lot of things to reduce our cost points. But, I think no one in this industry has figured out how to pin the gorilla yet. For that to happen, the price range has got to be with in $200,000 to $250,000. Nobody’s there yet. Whoever gets there, then I will say we’ve figured out how to pin the gorilla.”

Sztykiel says that after walking around the show floor, he noticed that there are many companies looking to innovation to help reduce the costs of apparatus. “I’m excited about the health of our industry,” he says. “I think we’ll eventually pin the gorilla. I think ti will happen within the next two to three years. I think somebody will figure out how to bring a commercially viable custom pumper to the marketplace with a lot of capability and it’s going to be priced between $200,000 and $250,000.

Sztykiel thinks momentum is moving in the right direction and that the industry is doing very well against the gorilla. “I think the industry really understands the importance of innovation. That excites me for Spartan, but I think it’s healthy for the industry.”

Where the recent recession helped the industry, according to Sztykiel, is it forced companies to look at how innovation is to everything—from process to product—which is helping the industry gain momentum against the gorilla.

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