44 DIESEL PROGRESS NORTH AMERICAN EDITION February 2014
what are the engines we’re going to provide, what technolo-
gies can we help them with on their engines. Just trying to
solve their technical and product problems, as opposed to “I
have a product, who wants to buy one?”
Although we are independent and we’re owned by our
shareholders and not theirs, I am very, very linked to my part-
ners and I’m only as good as the quality of my partners.
The way we convinced a lot of our shareholders that our
company is thriving and has a future is by performing better.
Part of all the stuff about how there isn’t a future for an independent was because our performance in the ’80s and ’90s
was not as good as it needed to be. I think we’ve had a run
of good results financially, good growth, some of the investments we made early on have paid off, we’ve been able to
grow share. So when people look at all those things, they say
hmmm, maybe that works.
My own view is that the argument about how it’s good to be
independent or it’s good to be not independent was kind of
missing the main idea. They were right in the sense that there
probably isn’t so much of a market anymore for somebody to
say I’m going to design an engine and see who wants one. I
think everybody needs much more integration than that. That’s
why we are focused on partnering and the integration side.
I think the idea of doing all of your own all the time misses
the fact that most of the equipment manufacturers have been
expanding both in terms of the amount of equipment they
make and also their global scope, which means providing a
10 QUESTIONS WITH TOM LINEBARGER OF CUMMINS dpX
powertrain for all those products is getting more difficult, not
easier. Even those that would love to make all of their own
engines really just can’t see a way to do it.
So I think having a partner that says hey, I can give you a
powertrain for those, I can help you with these and by the way
I’ve got some service networks in Latin America — that actually looks like an adjunct that they’d sure like to have. And to
buy it all would cost way more than they need. I think it ends up
where we’ve ended up now, a place which is kind of between
the two answers. It does, I think, have a long term future.
XI. (Bonus question) How much fun is it being on
the Harley-Davidson board of directors and are there
similarities as to how Cummins does things and Harley
I love being on the Harley board. It’s an honor to be on a
public company board and especially one that I’ve just admired
for so long. When I was in business school, Harley was one of
those classic turnaround stories where things looked like they
were really getting bleak and they figured out a way to turn it
around. It’s an iconic brand and it’s also just got a terrific culture.
I take my board service really seriously. It’s important as a
board member to understand what my role is, which is not managing the company, but to help make sure management is on the
right track and has a good strategy. You’ve got the right leadership there, so I have to step back relative to the role I play at Cummins. Oftentimes I’ll observe things and say well this doesn’t look
the same way as Cummins, but I’ll have to pull back my hand and
say that’s not for me to figure out and how to solve that.
But I do think, because there are some common challenges
for the two companies, I can ask good questions sometimes.
And I do think I can help act as an advisor now again when
they’re trying to address something that maybe Cummins has
addressed before. We do some benchmarking between the
companies when that makes sense for both companies. But
frankly I keep the roles separate. I don’t really think of my job as
the same in the two companies and I don’t try to drive too much
commonality or similarity. They each have their own thing; my
job is to make sure that both are successful in their own way.
But it’s a wonderful opportunity and I love doing it. They really do make terrific products and their brand is just amazing.
It’s amazing how many people identify with the brand.
They launched a new brand, the Dark Custom, a few years
ago that had a kind of Number 1 logo and within a year of
launching it, there was a picture of a guy on the cover of the
annual report with that Number 1 tattooed on his neck and I
thought, what if they get rid of the brand?
It’s remarkable that someone would put your brand name tattooed on their neck for the rest of their life. The one thing I would
love is to get somebody to put a Cummins “C” on their neck … dp
“Although we are independent and we’re owned by our share-
holders and not theirs, I am very, very linked to my partners and
I’m only as good as the quality of my partners.”
- Tom Linebarger, chairman CEO, Cummins Inc.