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Road test

Volvo’s Dublin factory lets customers take new trucks for a spin by Mason Adams

the tour, Thompson sometimes even gives out miniature tractor-trailer toys. This is when they visit Volvo’s Dublin plant, the Swedish company’s biggest manufacturing facility and its only one in North America. The day I visited, Thompson gave similar tours to customers from Texas, Oregon and New England. The factory walk has been part of the spiel for years at the 296-acre plant. But the customer experience track, which allows buyers without commercial driver’s licenses to experience a truck’s features in a setting that approximates real-life conditions, was built over the past two years. It has boosted the company’s bottom line and cemented its long-term presence as one of the New River Valley’s largest regional employers, while holding down costs and building goodwill in its workforce. “I’ll start by talking about how the idea came

in,” says Fr a n ky Marchand, vice president and general manager of the Volvo Trucks New River Valley Plant. “Around the world some factories have a test track where they can drive the trucks on their own property. You go and say, ‘How about we make a track for customers — who are not necessarily truck drivers but who are decisionmakers — and give them a chance to experience our trucks the way they’re supposed to be, in the right ROANOKE BUSINESS

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