John Merrifield, senior vp sales & marketing for Freightliner LLC subsidiaries Sterling and Western Star, is known for speaking bluntly— and did just that in regards to their future market share targets at the Mid-America Trucking Show last week in Louisville, KY.

“Sterling’s goal for 2004 is to reach 5% market share for Class 6 & 7 trucks and 7.5% for Class 8 trucks in the U.S. In Canada, our goal is 7.5% and 8.5%, respectively,” he said. “However, we ultimately want to achieve 10% market share for Sterling in both the U.S. and Canada. It’s not easy but we think we can do it.”

While Merrifield said Western Star’s market share goals are more modest, he emphasized that the company wants to become the ‘brand of choice’ in the Class 8 owner-operator segment. He pointed out that Western Star Class 8 sleeper orders have been climbing rapidly in 2004, despite a tricky two-year production transfer from British Columbia to Portland that didn’t get finalized until last year.

“There’s no denying that the [owner-operator] market has seen a lot of ups and downs in the last few years but we feel it is recovering now,” he said. “Through the first two months of this year we’ve seen our orders triple and our build rate has doubled from 11 trucks a day in 2002 to 22 trucks a day this year.”