Humble and hungry

From the September 2017 issue.

With new ownership and a new, home-grown CEO, Northern Ireland’s SDC Trailers is more bullish about the future than ever before.

When CIMC Vehicles came in at the top of Global Trailer’s first international OEM ranking in 2016, the mastermind behind the company’s remarkable rise to fame did not react like many in the industry would have expected him to.

Instead of praising the corporation’s expanding reach and economies of scale, David Li mused about the importance of ‘regionality’ and local rootedness in modern manufacturing. Having just welcomed Northern Irish company SDC Trailers to the ever-growing CIMC Vehicles family, he said the company was now placing more value on local specifications and preferences, with scale to be created on the backend only – for example in finance, design and business administration.

“The goal is to build a global powerhouse by tapping into local knowledge with strong regional brands,” he explained with view to the €91.7 million deal. “At CIMC Vehicles, each local entity is contributing to the group, while the group is building the supply chain and financing infrastructure, which is where savings can be made.”

A year on, SDC Trailers has neatly slotted into that somewhat dualistic framework, with Li referring to the brand’s strong local entrenchment as the main reason for what turned out to be an “exceptionally smooth” integration process. In fact, many an expert now says SDC Trailers has become the embodiment of CIMC Vehicles’ new growth strategy. Hardly a brand in the vast and varied world of trailer building is more in line with Li’s “think global, act local” mentality, and no one personifies it more accurately than newly appointed CEO, Enda Cushnahan.

Born and bred a short distance from SDC Trailers’ head office in Toomebridge, Northern Ireland, he joined the organisation aged 23 as an accountant and was quickly earmarked as a future executive by Mark Cuskeran, whom he replaced on 1 July this year.

Cushnahan worked his way up diligently since joining the firm – moving from accounting into financial controlling and eventually taking on a board position with SDC Trailers’ parent company, Retlan Group, before being elevated to CEO following Cuskeran’s departure from the role.

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