On Jan. 1, Mark Buzzell assumed the responsibilities of director, North America Fleet, Lease and Remarketing Operations (NAFLRO) for Ford Motor Co. Buzzell succeeded Kevin Koswick, who retired after serving in the role since January 2008.
Previously, Buzzell was president and CEO of Ford Motor Co. of Canada, a position he held since January 2017.
In his new position at NAFLRO, Buzzell will oversee commercial and government fleet sales, including remarketing efforts for the manufacturer. He also has brand responsibilities for Ford’s commercial vans, chassis cabs, police vehicles, taxis, limousines, livery, and recreational vehicles.
Prior to serving as president and CEO of Ford Motor Co. of Canada, Buzzell was the general manager for the western market area in the United States, a position he assumed in February 2015. In this role, Buzzell was responsible for leading the operations for 456 Ford and Lincoln dealers covering five major metropolitan areas (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Seattle, and Denver) and across 13 states.
Buzzell joined the company in 1989 and has held a variety of marketing, sales and service positions across the U. S., as well as in the Caribbean and Central America, including merchandising, brand development, product marketing, franchising, sales development, and dealer operations. He has extensive sales field experience including assignments in Twin Cities, Chicago and as general manager of the Great Lakes market area.
Buzzell has a bachelor of business degree from Pennsylvania State University and a master's degree in marketing from the University of Notre Dame.
Recently, we had an opportunity to interview Buzzell about his management philosophy and his near- and long-term goals as director of NAFLRO. Here is our report.
Automotive Fleet: What message would you like to convey to fleet managers about yourself and your philosophy toward fleet sales?
Mark Buzzell: Fleet sales represent almost one-third of Ford’s total business, so it's critical we continue to provide the best vehicles and service to meet our fleet manager’s needs. We take this business very seriously and to ensure their voice is heard we hold multiple "voice of the customer" meetings with them and we follow up to make sure their feedback is fed back into the product. When I was the CEO of Ford Canada, I had the responsibility for the fleet business, so I understand it well. I am fortunate to work with a talented and passionate team and look forward to developing relationships with our valued customers.
AF: What is Ford's outlook for the commercial fleet market for 2019 and beyond?
Buzzell: It continues to be healthy. The recent product announcements on our commercial trucks and vans should tell you that we are not taking our foot off the accelerator and we are very optimistic. We’ll continue to work hard to earn our customers' business.
AF: What are your short- and long-term goals to grow commercial and government fleet sales for Ford?
Buzzell: It's always about the customers and their needs. My job will be to ensure that we have the right products today and in the pipeline to meet their expectations.
AF: Industry-wide, and around the world, there is a segment migration away from sedans to crossovers and SUVs. What role will sedans play in future fleet applications?
Buzzell: We’ve announced that we're building a winning portfolio and focusing on products and markets where Ford can win. For example, by 2020, almost 90% of the Ford portfolio in North America will be trucks, utilities and commercial vehicles. Given declining consumer demand and product profitability, we will not invest in next generations of traditional Ford sedans for North America. We are also exploring new "white space" vehicle silhouettes that combine the best attributes of cars and utilities, such as higher ride height, space and versatility.
AF: Ford is investing $11 billion in electrified vehicles through 2022. Which fleet applications do you believe are best suited for electrified vehicles?
Buzzell: We see relevant applications for a variety of vocations, especially from pickup and delivery companies that have lot of stop and go. We also have interests from companies that provide sales vehicles to their reps.
AF: What initiatives does Ford have in place, or plan to introduce to address the needs of small to midsize fleets?
Buzzell: Once again, the products are key. A great example is the new Transit. We have further enhanced it with features that will suit our small business needs. For example, the new Transit will get standard automatic emergency braking. Also, we have more than 675 Commercial Vehicle Center dealers with trained sales, service and finance staff to handle the small fleet's needs.
AF: What initiatives is Ford developing to make it easier for fleet managers to do business with the company?
Buzzell: We have a strong field force to handle both small and large fleets; fleet telematics services so it's a one stop shop and we also offer national fleet parts pricing for the top moving maintenance parts.
AF: What is Ford's vision of the future of mobility in the commercial fleet market? How will this vision manifest itself in commercial fleet applications?
Buzzell: We are focused on creating and scaling a mobility platform and experience that customers and partners will embrace. Ford is targeting to become more than just a provider of mobile solutions. We’ve shared an ambition to create the Transportation Mobility Cloud of choice for cities and being an orchestrator of all digital connections from vehicle to street to business to home.
To give one example, we believe the advent of self-driving vehicles opens up the potential to improve efficiency and safety for fleet managers while easing some of life’s pain points and markedly expand affordable access to transportation and goods delivery for consumers. We're already collaborating with both national and local companies to understand how we can improve goods delivery through the use of self-driving vehicles, working to transport tacos, floral arrangements, dry cleaning and a number of other items.
AF: All 2020 Ford models will offer factory-installed connected devices. What new solutions do you envision this connectivity providing to your fleet customers?
Buzzell: New Ford Telematics increases commercial fleet efficiency. For instance:
- Improve Asset Utilization: Keep track of the vehicles in your fleet with GPS tracking and geo-fencing capabilities.
- Maximize Vehicle Availability: Receive notifications and vehicle health alerts so you can plan ahead.
- Optimize Your Running Costs: Monitor fuel consumption of all fleet to identify ways to save.
- Protect Your Fleet: Receive advance service reminders, or a warning that a driver isn’t wearing their seatbelt.
- Improve Driver Behavior: Receive valuable insights into driver performance to increase efficiency, reduce waste and improve compliance.
AF: Can you explain how the Ford Data Services Transportation Mobility Cloud will function and how will it benefit your commercial fleet customers?
Buzzell: Our systems are Ford engineered: integrated and open with our know-how and reliability. Ford Data Services helps you and your partners manage the flow of data in a secure and robust way, allowing your business operations to run seamlessly. You’ll receive manufacturer-grade signal accuracy and access, and giving you access to the newest updates and vehicle signals as soon as they become available — delivering insights as quickly as your business needs them. Our expertise and robust security program provides our customers with industry leading data protection. Our platform is designed for secure, open integration with any third-party service tool.