Mr ACCO talks the 3070, International Harvester, and Iveco

By: Steve Brooks


Known as Mr ACCO, Lloyd Reeman recalls the turbulent history of International and Iveco, and that one truck that brought them back to the top

Mr ACCO talks the 3070, International Harvester, and Iveco
Lloyd Reeman: “When you boil it all down, it’s all about people.”

 

Much of the media refers to Lloyd Reeman these days as ‘Mr ACCO’.

Nice gesture I guess, but to my mind seriously short of the mark in describing a man whose commitment and dedication to a company and its customers go way beyond such a simplistic tag.

Perhaps, like ACCO, it ties him to the heydays of International history when as an 18 year-old first employed in the International Harvester mailroom, he began a career which would stretch almost half a century and endure more corporate upheaval than most minds could even contemplate.

However, neither of us particularly keen on revisiting the historical happenings of International and Iveco – there has been enough written on those events to fill a small library.

Instead, it’s an occasion to glean through the eyes of a true and trusted toiler, some of the people and products that helped create one of the Australian trucking industry’s greatest stories of corporate evolution and survival.

And likewise, the mindset and motivation that kept Lloyd Reeman turning up day after day, year after year when so many times it seemed the entire entity and all within it would be crushed in corporate collapse.

While he says he’s "sorta retired", Lloyd is currently staying on the Iveco books as a contractor, working a few days a week with the somewhat reverential title of Brand Ambassador.

He whispered at last year’s Brisbane Truck Show that with his 65th birthday approaching and an earlier health issue that caused something of a refocus on the quality of life, retirement was becoming a real possibility.

And so it was that at the end of 2015, Lloyd Reeman decided to pull stumps.

Wisely, Iveco wasn’t prepared to let all that experience just walk out the door, thus his engagement as a contractor.

"I’m not stopping completely," he quips. "I’m just stepping aside from the 14 hour days and spending more time with my wife and grandkids.

"Besides, it’s time. New people are coming into the company and exciting changes are coming with them.

"Change doesn’t intimidate me, not at all, but they’re the sort of changes we need because they’ll bring greater stability to the company. Believe me, it’s happening."

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Evolution. The transition from models like International S-line to Iveco Powerstar wasn’t easy but according to Lloyd Reeman, "… we had to focus". Iveco was the lifesaver.

 

Change!

Lloyd Reeman has seen more than his fair share of change as he reflects on a career starting in the halcyon years of International Harvester.

"I actually had two stints with the company," he explains. "I started in 1969 and left in 1985 to go to a sales job with an International dealer in Tasmania. That was really good retail experience but after a couple of years I was bored and actually ran out of customers, seriously.

"So when an invitation came up in 1988 to rejoin International, I grabbed it and have been here ever since.

"It was the greatest experience, the greatest place to work and learn," he says with true affection for the giant that was International Harvester.

"Even though it was a big corporate conglomerate based in the US, there was this amazing sense of family.

"And it was hugely successful, very strong and very powerful, and the market leader in farm equipment and trucks.

"As a young bloke you had marvellous mentors and I can still remember my first boss, George Jordan, a wonderful bloke, who told me ‘If you’re no good you’ll still be in the mail room in three months’.

"I was out in six weeks," he recalls with a wink and a nod, "and went straight into a training course in the workshop, then other courses on service, sales and supply inventory. Everything … finance, admin, spare parts, retail.

"You were taught the lot, provided you wanted to learn. It was up to you and the ladder was there to climb if you wanted to climb it.

"But those opportunities aren’t there any more, or if they are I’m not seeing them, and the reason for that is because companies like International Harvester just don’t exist anymore. They’re gone."

For the past decade and more, he has been Iveco’s front man.

The sharp, quick-witted, motivated, confident orator and sales supremo of all things Iveco. At times the only solid, stable, strong and trusted influence in an outfit with unquestionably the best oiled revolving door in the business.

It’s hard to know whether it’s more personal achievement or corporate indictment, but Lloyd Reeman has worked for no less than 18 different managing directors including current chief Michael Johnson.

In fact, it wouldn’t be too weird to suggest that the two greatest constants at International and Iveco have been Lloyd Reeman and the march of new management.

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A ’78 model Atkinson on roadtrain duty. The big ‘A’ was a solid performer for International but according to Lloyd Reeman, the 3070 was the real game changer in the cab-over class.

 

Reviving International

Along that journey came the catastrophic collapse of International Harvester, a change that ripped the heart out of its people.

"It hurt everyone and when I say hurt, I mean real hurt," he says firmly.

"The transition from Inter to Iveco was tough. Definitely! It was a new culture, new processes and new products. We went from S-line to Powerstar, T-line to EuroTech, but we had to focus.

"Without Iveco, the company would’ve just fallen in a deeper hole and never climbed out."

As for all those managing directors, can you pick a couple that for one reason or another stand above the others?

"There were plenty of good ones," he answers without hesitation. "Ben Lazerich was an American who did a good job in my opinion but I think the three who stand out are David Eagle, Stefan Schneider and Alain Gajnik.

"As far as I’m concerned, they were all the right man at the right time."

As for the generations of trucks, one model ranks above all others in Lloyd Reeman’s estimation.

"S-line, Atkinson, ACCO, they all did great jobs," he asserts, "but as far as I’m concerned, the International 3070 is the truck that really stands out."

"The 3070 put us back on top and as far as I’m concerned, it was a real game changer."

 

Read the full interview with Lloyd Reeman in an upcoming version of ATN and Owner//Driver.

 

 

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