Exclusive: Mark Fusco, President at Rosenbauer America, talks supporting the mission of saving lives and protecting property

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IFSJ caught up with Mark Fusco, the newly appointed President at Rosenbauer America, to discuss supply chain issues, electric vehicles and plans for the future of the business

First of all, congratulations on the appointment – how does it feel?

It is an honour. Rosenbauer is in a strong position in the market and as a company. We’re positioned for a lot of growth, we’ve made a lot of investments over the last several years. For me personally, this is a great opportunity to contribute on the long tradition and heritage of the company and be a part of its future is an extremely exciting. I’m very humbled and thankful for it.

Can you tell me a little about yourself, your background, and your career leading up to your appointment as President?

I’ve been with Rosenbauer for nearly two years. I was brought on as its Vice President of Sales and Marketing. The privilege I’ve had in the last few years is being a part of the leadership team to develop and craft the forward direction of the business. Learning the company and getting involved in its products, the market that we serve, and the customers was something that I was focused on for the last few years leading up to this role.

Prior to joining Rosenbauer, my background is in agriculture specifically in heavy equipment manufacturing. When you look at the products, there are a lot of similarities between large agricultural equipment and fire trucks. They are customised, complex and built in a way that is designed to serve communities.

In 20 years, I spent 13 of them with John Deere and had an opportunity to work in a variety of different capacities including from a product development standpoint, dealer development aspect, field sales and factory operations. My last three leadership roles at Deere included sitting over its Asia and Africa business, I repatriated to the US and was responsible for its tactical marketing organisation, and last finished leading its eastern US business division where I was responsible for its dealer channel, complete goods sales, service and parts organisations.

What have you been working on since taking over as President?

My initial focus, which is really an industry situation, is the supply chain dynamic that any heavy manufacturer is currently faced with. Fire trucks, on road trucks, tractors – no matter what it might be, there is a necessity to manage the supply chain on a day-to-day, minute-to-minute basis. Our factory operations are an immediate focus for me so we can continue to build on the strong position the company has found over the last two years.

Fire departments are counting on us. Something we like to share with our team members is that we have the strongest order backlog in company history. There is a severe need for replacement apparatus in communities, with many making emergency purchases. It is an extreme focus for us to deliver trucks to the communities that desperately need them.

What are your thoughts on the firefighting vehicle market and the rise of electric vehicles?

From a new product development standpoint, the EV (electric vehicle) space has been something Rosenbauer worldwide has focused on for more than a decade. We have been involved with research and development, thought partnerships, working with leading universities, fire departments and outside industries such as automotive to really start to understand the EV trend.

Rosenbauer has developed the first fully electric fire truck in the world for full scale application. All the supporting elements that are needed to support customers in this new vehicle category is an area that has been a key focus for us. It is something that the entire company has enjoyed and is something I have taken hold of as we get closer to bringing the RTX electric fire truck to market.

Does Rosenbauer America have any plans in the pipeline for the years ahead that you would like to share?

A great product that we significantly invested in and did research on for about six years globally is the battery extinguishing system technology (BEST) to assist fire departments in combatting EV fires in a more sustainable and safe way than the previous practices. BEST is placed to solve the problem that is EV fires occurring on a radically increasing basis as the number of EVs continues to exponentially increase across the world. That has been a key focus, and we’ll continue to build upon that platform with enhancements and additional technology down the line.

We’ve also got a whole host of digital solutions that we recently brought to market globally which were launched within the last month. They are designed to help fire departments become more predictive and efficient with their firefighting capabilities. For example, with some of the different topography you can pinpoint a wildfire before it has started and develop a tactical strike team. We’ve got many technology products in pipeline in several different stages to assist fire departments in that regard.

We have a host of remote diagnostics in different machine type analytics and connected services that can proactively predict whether a fire apparatus has not been properly serviced for example, whether that means it has passed its service interval or needs an update that the department has been unable to attend to for whatever reason.

We are committed to looking at all the market segments and developing new products and new technology to bring to market whilst still supporting the current apparatus requirements of our customers.

There has been radical growth within our aerials business, with our smart aerials which have automated features, taking a lot of risk out of the operation of a complex vehicle. Some of the automated features and technology of our smart aerial has been widely accepted into the market and bringing safer operations, assisting many of the pain points of a fire department.

We recently brought out a new custom general chassis. We are now able to bring a custom truck to some markets that maybe didn’t have the funding or budgets historically, presenting a suitable price point without sacrificing the safety and benefits and features that a custom chassis offers.

Finally, do you have any predictions for the future of Rosenbauer America.

Some folks have asked me as I’ve come into the new role what we can expect over the next few years. The message I’ve been driving is to continue what we’re doing well to get us to this point, which is due in part to the hard work and commitment of team members throughout the company.

I fully expect us to become more integrated as an organisation. The Rosenbauer group is built from a variety of joint ventures or different business units. As we look to bring the company to the next level and set it up for the next 150 years, the increased collaboration amongst out campuses, leveraging what we do best in each of the areas is a big focus of mine. We’ve got a very hard working and committed culture that we want to continue to foster, leverage and build upon. We have new team members that are joining and ensuring we continue to do what we do well.

Also, with all the different dynamics externally, we put ourselves in a position of agility in what is probably going to be a continuing supply challenge environment. We are challenging ourselves to do things a little faster than we have before and counting on team members to raise ideas and promote a culture that is inclusive, forward driven, and committed to the fire service, which is really what Rosenbauer is all about.

Rosenbauer’s purpose is the mission of saving lives and protecting property. We’re here for communities, we’re here to serve. It’s truly in Rosenbauer’s DNA and that’s why we do what we do every day.

This article was originally published in the October edition of IFSJ. To read your FREE digital copy, click here

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