|By DENNE GOLDSTEIN|
Todd Bloom grew up in a small town in the Pennsylvania Dutch community in Philadelphia. He was instilled with a wonderful set of values that he feels has carried him through to this day.
He, like most kids, liked adventure. Unlike most high school kids, Bloom decided to spend his senior year abroad, as an exchange student. “It was a terrific way to do some traveling, to see and understand how different and diverse this world is,” said Bloom.
Upon his return, he entered Syracuse University and graduated in 1976 with a degree in business and advertising. With his degree in hand, Bloom jumped into the advertising world. During the next seven years, he had an opportunity to hone and polish his skills in a number of jobs in a business-to-business. He then landed a position with an advertising agency and became an account supervisor.
One of his clients was a small Italian company, a manufacturer of commercial trucks. After working with them as an account supervisor for the advertising agency, they asked him to join their firm. “That’s when I started in the truck business,” said Bloom. “I’ve been in that business ever since.” That was in the early ’80s and the company was IVECO.
After working in the United States as head of marketing, the company offered him a new position to help launch IVECO products worldwide. In 1989, Bloom became vice president of marketing for IVECO worldwide and moved to Italy and the UK, where he stayed for nine years.
In 1997, he was offered a position with American Isuzu Motors, Inc., where he held various positions, including vice president of marketing.
IVECO was the first to make medium duty, cab-over trucks, said Bloom. “This was a relatively new concept, and it was here that I began to formulate my opinions and position about how to sell vehicles in this type of class.”
“The industry is much larger and more varied than most people think,” he commented. “It serves so many different markets—everybody uses vehicles.”
Bloom began to formulate and plan how to introduce this medium duty, cab-over truck to the different industries. “I realized early on that this business is really driven by the customer. It takes more than selling the trucks to our dealers. I felt we also needed to take care of the end user,” said Bloom.
Businesses don’t buy trucks because they’re in love with them, they buy them because they are a necessity to their business. Bloom realized that marketing to various industries needed a custom approach. By getting to understand his customer’s customer (the guy who bought the truck) and the markets they served, he was able to develop a marketing plan for specialized markets, like landscaping.
Between 2006 and 2008, the truck business was in its heyday, but like most businesses in the U.S., in 2009, they too began to feel the slowdown. “We talk about industries going down 20, 30, even 40 percent, but medium-duty trucks, classes 3-7, dropped 75 percent. The truck business completely collapsed,” said Bloom.
“After 13 glorious years, and with Isuzu moving in a certain direction, it was time for me to move on,” said Bloom. “But it was not the best of times to leave without having another position.” However, Bloom not only had confidence in his abilities, he knew this business inside out and he was confident he could make a difference. “Maybe I was naïve, but I viewed that time period as just part of the natural progression of a career.”
It didn’t take long before Bloom received a call from Mitsibushi FUSO.
After a number of rounds of discussions, Bloom accepted the position as president and CEO of Mitsibushi FUSO, U.S. “I had the opportunity to take all those years of experience, and use that to chart a course so that we really could respond to what the customers’ needs were.”
“I began to think of how we could be different from the competition,” said Bloom. “We have a very talented team and an interesting product concept. We redefined what the FUSO product was for the U.S. market in a way that was unique, meaning that we took a position that wasn’t the same as everyone else.”
Bloom jumped in with both feet. He focused very clearly on one particular aspect of truck ownership that he and his team thought was critical to people like those in the landscape industry. It came down to a very simple concept of trying to lower the cost of ownership and operation of a truck.
One of their goals is to position their truck to people who’ll say, “This makes sense for my business.” And because of the input from various landscape contractors, Bloom and his team added increased uses for their vehicles. If landscape contractors push snow, or have a need to go off-road, by using the cab-over concept and offering the only 4x4 in the industry, even more opportunities open up. The concept of the vehicle is as if it was specifically designed for the landscape contractor or people involved in this type of business.
“We’re not creating the need—the need is there. We’re just responding to it in a way that says, ‘Hey, look, you asked for a truck that costs less to operate, and okay, here’s what we’ve got,’ ” said Bloom. “And that’s indeed what the whole concept is in terms of our business model, not only for the landscape industry but for industry in general.”
What does Bloom see in the future? New technologies that take advantage of alternative fuels, hybrids, and ways to make businesses greener and even more efficient than they are today. “We’re going to find new ways to use the power out of our vehicles in a more efficient way,” he says. “Ways that will make the use of a truck as a tool become even more productive and effective.”
“You will even be able to add a mobile office to it. In fact, that’s a requirement; that’s what people are asking for today, especially in the landscape industry, where everything is mobile,” said Bloom. “People want their truck to be able to monitor their schedules, but it will also be a virtual office. We’ll see even more integrations that are involved not only in the vehicle itself, but in communications that will be integrated into the trucks.”
Todd Bloom is a visionary. He saw the need, when few others did. He identified that need and carved out a niche for cab-over trucks, and they have proven to be workhorses for the landscape market.