As a kid, Brandon Tucker loved to take toy cars apart and put them back together. Today, he is Director of Operations for the Navistar site in Huntsville, Alabama. Tucker, a trained engineer, works closely together with colleagues from Scania and MAN as part of the CBE project, the TRATON GROUP’s common base engine.
“I never actually set out to become a plant manager,” says Brandon Tucker, “I sort of grew into the role as time went on.” The 44-year-old has two bachelor’s degrees: one in Electronics Engineering and one in Integrated Manufacturing Systems. Back in his college days, Tucker earned the money to support himself and cover his tuition — something he is very proud of. He began his career working as a process engineer for an electrical distribution company. When offered the opportunity to go into management, he grabbed it with both hands. Fast forward more than 15 years, and he has made his way through a variety of operational roles with multiple companies, “taking on a little more responsibility each time,” he recalls. Born and raised in Alabama, Tucker returned to his home state in 2016, taking over as Director of Operations for the Navistar site in Cherokee, Alabama. Tucker explains his job as, for all intents and purposes, that of a coach: constantly giving direction to the team and coordinating with colleagues across the entire company, from engineering and production all the way to quality assurance and sales.
Director of Operations
Tucker and his team are working on the Common Base Engine (CBE), a powertrain platform Scania, MAN, and Navistar are developing together, to be joined by Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus in the future. The engine is set to be launched in 2023. “We will be building the CBE at four or five locations on multiple continents across the globe,” Tucker explains. Since this is a cross-brand project, the teams have to liaise closely. Tucker speaks to colleagues from other brands every day. “Each of the brands has its own unique philosophy,” says Tucker. He values the opportunity to think outside the box and to collaborate with so many colleagues. “The experience is not only fun and refreshing, it also opens up new possibilities.” Before the COVID-19 pandemic, much of the higher-level business was handled in person. When the travel restrictions were introduced, Tucker had to swap flights for video calls for the time being.
Believer in authenticity
Although video meetings have now become a necessity, Tucker believes some things are lost without the in-person connection with others. The most important thing when talking to other people — in real life or through a webcam — is staying authentic. “We all have our own strengths. Stay true to yourself and do not pretend to be someone you’re not,” Tucker continues. Even though he came across a lot of cultural differences when traveling to other countries, the thing that struck him the most was how much we all have in common: “At the end of the day, we all want similar things: we want our families to be happy and healthy and we want to do well in our jobs.”
For Tucker, the best way to switch off from his office job with its many meetings it to be outdoors. He loves camping, for example. Together with a friend, the father-of-two also built a cabin on the 40 acres of land he owns in the woods. He enjoys spending time there, alone or with his family and friends. His favorite thing to do in his spare time is to go hunting or fishing, or do water sports. Tucker also loves to repair things around the house. “That’s something I’ve always loved doing,” he says with a smile. “When I was a kid, I used to take apart remote-controlled cars, sometimes having a hard time getting them back together properly — much to my parents’ annoyance.” These days, Tucker is a little better at putting things back together. “Although I do enjoy it and find it very therapeutic, I think for the most part, I’m just trying to impress my wife”.