Hitachi begins its new foundation in the Americas with the launch of its Dash 7 excavator lineup
In March 2022, Hitachi Construction Machinery Americas (HCMA) set out to bring its global brand to North America.
A month prior, John Deere and Hitachi ended their joint venture manufacturing and marketing agreements for excavators in North America. As well, Deere acquired ownership of the three Deere-Hitachi joint venture factories. Hitachi would also see a change to its shareholder composition.
“2022 was such an epic year for HCM group,” said Sonny Ishii, Chairman of Hitachi Construction Machinery Americas. “These changes were truly positive ones for our group and brought a solid foundation for our future growth in the Americas. We call it the second foundation of our company.”
The separation from Deere enabled Hitachi to connect directly to its customers.
“This is one of the areas we lost in the last 20 years. We were buffered from the feedback of customers and dealers. This was at odds with our Hitachi culture,” said Al Quinn, CEO for Hitachi Construction Machinery Americas. “Our future is built on direct involvement with customers and direct engagement with dealers to satisfy their needs.”
Hitachi Dash 7
In March 2022, Hitachi sent out teams to visit customers and dealers to discover what machine solutions would best fit their business needs.
The result is the new Dash 7 product lineup, a complete redesign that will include two compact excavators, 13 construction excavators, six mining excavators, as well as six construction wheel loaders.
“Almost 3,000 engineers have been working over the last year in Japan to develop this product and to finalize this product,” said Simon Wilson, Vice President of Sales for Hitachi Construction Machinery Americas.
“The information that was provided from North America to the engineering team has really driven us to focus on what these customers have really been asking for.”
Many of the new Dash 7 excavators and wheel loaders made their debut at ConExpo in March.
“This is our first ConExpo, and I cannot even tell you enough just what an exciting time this is for us,” Quinn said.
To launch the new Hitachi, the company expanded its North American headquarters in Newnan, Georgia, and built a more than 37,000 square metre parts distribution centre. Hitachi also created more than 150 new positions within the organization.
“Despite labour challenges, we had over 10,000 applicants for 150 jobs, and they were far and away from within the industry,” Quinn said. “They were people that shared the same dream as we did that wanted to build something special.”
Hitachi is also tasked with building a dealership network for its excavators. While they have retained the core dealers that carry the Hitachi wheel loader brand, the company began connecting with new distribution partners. To date, Quinn said they have about 80 per cent market coverage in North America.
“We would say that we attracted Class A or Tier 1 distribution to take us to the next level of being able to compete with the market leaders,” Quinn said. “And this is just the start.”
Looking to the future
The expansion into the Americas is seen as one of the most important challenges for the company in Hitachi’s 70 years of developing, producing, selling and servicing construction and mining machinery.
“We know that Hitachi globally is a powerhouse, but we lost that visibility in the Americas,” Quinn said. “We are witnessing the start-up of the Hitachi global brand in the Americas.”
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In the 2022 fiscal year, the Americas represented about 24 per cent of revenue for the entire Hitachi Construction Machinery Group.
Quinn explained 2022 sales represent almost 10 times Hitachi America sales in 2021, which is 50 per cent more than the company projected.
“It’s hard to believe. With all the struggles and the challenges that we’re still having, just to be able to sustain and support that level of growth has really been a challenge,” he said. “But when we look back, it’s unbelievable.”
The company is now on track to double its sales for the 2023 fiscal year.
We have the orders; we have the dealer network of about 80 per cent and we’re doing business now with essentially all the major national rental companies,” Quinn explained.
Hitachi’s goal is to become a Top 3 manufacturer of construction machinery in North America by the year 2028.
“I can honestly say I’m more excited about the future now than when I joined the company,” Quinn said. “I expected great things of the Hitachi brand and anticipation of when it would come together, but the customer reaction, the dealer reaction, and the employee reaction took this excitement to a whole other level.”