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Volvo Bus Australia stalwart to leave at end of 2022

David Mead arrived at Volvo Bus Australia as general manager nearly 20 years ago. After helping the company excel through numerous global challenges, Mead says he’s had an amazing journey as his time at Volvo comes to a finish at year’s end.

When David Mead first joined Volvo Bus Australia in 2004 as general manager, he soon found out he was walking into an industry that would welcome him with open arms.

Upon attending his first bus industry event at 2004’s BusNSW conference in Coffs Harbour, Mead knew he fitted into the sector like a hand in glove.

“From that day onwards, I was made to feel welcome by customers, suppliers and everyone in the industry,” Mead told ABC. “Even after 19 years at the company, I’m amazed at the level of experience in the industry.

“The generosity of people, regardless of experience, makes it an inclusive and tightknit industry. Even as we see it change, it has still kept a lot of its character over that time.”

After nearly 19 years, the current Volvo Bus Australia Asia Pacific vice president will finish with Volvo at the end of 2022. Following years of success at the company, Mead will leave to pursue new opportunities and further his career outside of the Volvo Group.

Mead says he leaves with mixed emotions. Upon reflecting on his time with Volvo Bus Australia, the vice president says he has seen the bus and coach industry change drastically over the past 19 years.

“There’s been lots of changes in a number of different ways,” Mead says. “There are a lot less operators now than when I first started. From a Volvo perspective, we were a team of nine when I started and now there are 25 in the Volvo Bus Australia team.

“I’ve been privileged to witness the unique nature of the industry develop. Businesses have had to partner to deliver what we do. We all work together to deliver the outcome and it’s grown to become a team effort.”

Mead says he has had many highlights during his time at Volvo Bus. He admits he’s an infinitely optimistic and positive person when he says there have been no major challenges that have prevented Volvo from doing anything while he has been at the company.

“We’ve always found a way or come to a solution,” Mead says. “Nothing stands out as a challenge. I can only remember highlights.”

Mead’s highlights include Volvo Bus Australia’s 50-year anniversary celebrated in 2020 and his time as a vice chairman for the Bus Industry Confederation (BIC).

He says the 50-year celebrations allowed Volvo Bus to reflect on all of the people who have worked for Volvo Bus over the time while also paying respect to the customers who have supported the brand.

When it comes to his time with BIC, Mead says he hoped he played his part in helping the industry band together on the right issues.

“The BIC, along with state associations, do a good job of addressing issues, and organisations like Volvo have a responsibility for wearing the industry cap,” Mead says. “The objective of organisations like BIC are so important in growing the pie for both public transport and the bus sector.

“The work BIC and Volvo have done emphasises that we should speak at the right time as an industry and collective of organisations.”

Despite these numerous highlights, one moment clearly sticks above the rest for Mead’s time at Volvo Bus Australia. While holding the position as Volvo Bus Australia general manager for seven years, Mead took the Volvo Bus brand to the number one market position in 2010.


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Since soaring to the top in 2010, Volvo has held onto the number one spot for the past 12 years, leading the Australian market with a market share as high as 40 per cent during that period.

“One of the proudest moments I’ll leave behind is when we ascended to number one in the Australian market in 2010,” Mead says. “Everything that has gone into that from individual efforts to customer support has made me proud and satisfied of that result we’ve had consistently.”

Having just emerged out of the global financial crisis in 2009, Mead says selling and then delivering 615 buses throughout 2010 remains an all-time high. Mead says the remarkable year all boils down to Volvo’s success in winning businesses in 2009.

“We won the Perth business with PTA as well as the Brisbane City Council business alongside other private business pieces,” Mead says. “Seeing the work we put in from 2004 through to 2010 was an amazing moment that stands out.

“It was a culmination of the effort and changes we put in place. It was the start of our market leadership that we’ve held onto since.”

Mead says Volvo Bus Australia should continue to hang its hat on its ability to lead change in the industry, particularly when it comes to environmental issues.

 

When Mead first joined Volvo, buses were running on Euro 3 emissions. Now, he leaves following the brand’s recent launch of its BZL Electric chassis. He says being able to have such an environmental focus and deliver on core values has been satisfying.

After helping the organisation get through the recent COVID pandemic and launch electric products, Mead leaves expecting to see more success for both Volvo and the entire industry.

His final message to the industry is to enjoy capitalising on the positivity that is to come, while also remaining central to vital sustainable public transport discussions.

For Mead himself, he wouldn’t be shocked if he manages to find his way back in the bus industry before too long.

“I’m not sure at all how or where I’ll go next,” Mead says. “I certainly haven’t ruled out staying in the industry.

“I don’t know where I’ll be taken next. Only time will tell. Until the end of the year comes, it’s business as usual for me at Volvo Bus Australia.”

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