UNITED STATES: Volvo CE’s new Customer Center for North America is more than just a new building
by Stephanie Anderson Witmer
On a rainy June morning, the Volvo CE Customer Center in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, is abuzz with whirring power tools and pounding hammers. Construction crews are still hard at work a week before the facility’s grand opening, but Customer Center Manager Marty Breedlove is not worried. Breedlove, who has worked for Volvo for 20 years, explains that an especially harsh Pennsylvania winter set construction a month behind schedule. Still, he exudes a calm, quiet confidence: “It’ll be done in time,” he says with a nod and a smile.
The site includes the 1,860m2 Customer Center and a 40-acre (16ha) demonstration site. It is unlike any other Volvo CE facility in North or Central America, says Breedlove, and each component is focused on providing a hands-on experience for dealers and customers.
The Customer Center houses an auditorium for meetings and training sessions; a VIP boardroom; a brand shop, with Volvo CE gifts and other items; and Heritage Hall, a small museum of Volvo CE’s history and legacy. Outside, customers and dealers can ask questions of Volvo experts, watch demonstrations, and socialize and enjoy entertainment on the patio.
They can also test drive equipment on the demonstration site, which features mud pits and huge mounds of rock, gravel, and dirt to simulate an actual work site. A 1.75-mile (2.8km) road loops around the site, allowing customers to load up an articulated hauler with gravel, for example, and experience transporting it.
“The demonstration site will allow customers to put our machines to the test, just as they do on the job,” Breedlove says. “Everything Volvo CE has in its line-up, we’ll be able to demo at the site.”
The Customer Center is part of a $100 million (€73.4 million) investment announced by Volvo CE in 2011 and confirms the company’s long-term commitment to the North American market. The center is located next to the two other components of the operation: a manufacturing facility and the North American sales office, which was relocated from Asheville, North Carolina, three years ago. Their proximity to one another affords customers with an incomparable experience, says Thomas Caster,vice president of sales support.
But the Customer Center is much more than just a new building, Caster explains. It also serves as a symbol of Volvo’s commitment to providing its customers with a singular, satisfying experience.
“The facility is an important part of a bigger concept,” he says. “When we bring customers here, we can bring them to the factory, they can meet the experts, they can get the flavor of our heritage in Heritage Hall, and then we can take them to the demo site to test the vehicles. It’s an important piece of the entire experience we can offer our customers.”