Cummins New Zealand general manager Daniel Gallagher grew up in semi-rural Melbourne and says he had a connection with motorcycles, trucks and tractors from an early age.
“I very much enjoyed mechanical things I suppose. And then when I went to high school I was in trouble quite a bit for talking and asking questions. The teachers liked me but I was always off doing things different to what they wanted me to do!”
Daniel says he did a bit of everything at school, including agricultural studies, but didn’t really know what he wanted to do when he left school.
“I sat down with our careers person and she thought I had a level of intellect that would get me into university, so I started doing physics, specialist maths and chemistry. Right up until Year 11 I was doing pretty well but it wasn’t really me. My mum was a teacher and she introduced me to a lovely careers lady, who was actually separate from the school I was attending, and she said ‘you should be in sales and marketing, you should connect with people, that’s where I think your skills are at’.”
This led to Daniel dropping chemistry and science and starting English literature, business economics, finance and accounting, following that with a business degree at La Trobe University in Melbourne after leaving school.
“I did a double major in marketing and human resource management, which one of my mentors likened to punching yourself in each side of your face! I really enjoyed university, I met some great people and some of my longest friends are the guys I studied with.”
After university Daniel decided to take a year off to travel and spend time with friends.
“I did a bit of cabinet making, and tinkered with cars and bikes and trucks, which was what I found enjoyable. It was meant to be 12 months but after eight months I thought I better get back into all this work I’d studied for, so I worked for an organisation that specialised in J1939 control systems. Electronic engines were coming to the fore during that period and it was a marketing role.”
Daniel says he was given the opportunity to set up their marketing plan and sales strategy. Through that he became acquainted with Cummins, as that company was one of their suppliers.
“I liked what I saw immensely, and as someone who was in a sales role, working for a diesel engine company selling engines seemed to be where it was at. The values of the organisation shone through, and I was employed as an engine salesman on a handshake by then sales director Garry Piper. I remember him saying at the time, ‘you’ve got more front than a rat with a gold tooth but we reckon you can sell so you’ve got the job!’
“He was great to me, he taught me everything he knew. I was a sales executive for Cummins from 2007 until 2012. I’ve been very lucky to have numerous mentors throughout our organisation but Garry was the one who hired me.”
Daniel says they came up with the saying ‘populate the earth’, doing everything they could to get as many of those red engines into the field.
“It was a great, very successful time. With the help of Cummins, who have got a real people leadership development bend, I was given some further training and opportunities to take on a sales management role, looking after industrial marine and automotive engine sales for the east coast of Australia.”
Sadly just as Daniel took on that role, Garry passed away from cancer.
“SO THEN I was working for the sales director, Brian Smith, another great mentor, who is now the engine business director for the Asia Pacific region. He said ‘you’ve got to go and do some people management’. So I was fortunate enough to get some more development and I started looking after the sales team.”
Daniel says he enjoyed managing the team he had earlier been part of.
“People I trust have said ‘people is business and business is people’ and that’s something that has stuck with me. I developed a love for leading people, and giving them the opportunity and the runway to do things that they didn’t think were possible, is what I got a kick out of.”
In 2014 Daniel was told he had the capability to go further in Cummins, which resulted in the now South Pacific managing director, Stephanie Disher, putting him in charge of the New Zealand business. He moved to New Zealand with his family in 2015.
“It is a really beautiful country. The diversity of the landscape that exists from the sub-tropical Bay of Islands to the Southern Alps, that’s one of the things I enjoy so much. Auckland’s quite a cosmopolitan city, but you jump in the car for an hour and you’re in beautiful rural New Zealand, which is just amazing.”
Daniel says Cummins New Zealand is run as a company owned business operation.
“We have our own balance sheet, we run our own HR and finance function, and it is a stand-alone New Zealand business. I suppose 2015 was a consolidation year, we had a look at what the footprint looked like, what the team looked like, and made some pretty significant structural changes. We spent a lot of time on people, customers and growth, the three things that have been our recipe for success over the past 24 months.”
2016 was a record year for Cummins New Zealand, with double-digit top line and significant profit growth, and 2017 was also a good year. Daniel says this success has provided further opportunity to reinvest in people and assets.
“It has certainly set this business up for long-term stability and success, something that I’m very passionate about. Obviously the truck sales are doing exceptionally well, and we’ve had great growth in marine, power generation and the industrial sector.”
Daniel agrees with the statement that a rising tide lifts all boats.
“I think optimism and positivity are very powerful leadership tools. New Zealand is a great country to be in at this point in time with a diversity of economic success. There’s a lot of positivity about and it’s great to be a part of it.”
Cummins will celebrate its 100th birthday in 2019 and Daniel says that was one of the factors which attracted him to the company.
“You don’t get to be 100 years old without a history of innovation. Diversity and inclusion is still a huge part of what we do today, and that value set is what attracted me to the organisation. I think it’s good that people recognise that about us, because when you talk about an organisation that you’re as passionate about as I am, you don’t always see the culture that exists within it. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking to Tom Linebarger, our chairman and CEO, or Steph Disher, our South Pacific managing director, that personality and that value set is a part of us all. And I think that is what makes us different.”
Daniel says he spent a lot of his youth both riding and racing motorbikes. He still has a selection of bikes today and likes nothing better than getting out on the bikes in his spare time.
“I wanted nothing more than a motorbike when I was about six, and my mum and dad resisted until my 10th birthday when I got my first bike. It’s something that’s been with me ever since. I had a mildly successful road race career and actually came second in the 600 Superstock series in the Victorian titles in 2008.”