The division is primarily targeting non-fleet commercial customers, a growing segment that accounts for about 500,000 sales yearly. These are local businesses delivering items such as furniture and home electronics, plus specialized operators such as construction subcontractors.
GMC wants 12 percent of this market in 1995 and is making a long-term commitment to it, says Jay Surratt, light truck commercial marketing manager. 'We're fertilizing the fields for tomorrow, and, as we get more production capacity, putting more of our product into them,' he says.
The commercial-truck market also has more year-to-year stability than the consumer market. Officials expect the commercial market to take up any slack when consumer demands cools.
GMC already has started diverting more production to the light-commercial market to support dealers' sales efforts. That includes full-sized vans and the van chassis derived from them, according to Mark Degnan, GMC special vehicle sales manager.
GMC has signed and certified more than 400 dealers to its light-commercial truck program. To be certified to handle the light-commercial truck program, a dealer must undergo training, assign a salesperson to handle these trucks, plus meet inventory and servicing rules.
GMC is backing dealers' efforts with extra hands-on training, particularly for specialized products such as the HD-3500 commercial chassis.
The division also is providing information on market trends to help dealers with inventory.
And GMC is running commercial-truck ads and participating in more local truck shows to support dealers, Surratt says.
GMC has 12 field sales managers assisting light-commercial truck dealers with planning and sales efforts, says Surratt.
It is also using the expertise of its commercial upfitters.
Says Degnan: 'The body equipment manufacturers know their equipment. They know our chassis. They are a real asset in helping us train dealers and also in helping the dealers go out and call on customers.'