If you drive our nation’s highways, you know there are a lot of big-rigs on the road. They haul groceries, gasoline, building materials and nearly everything else you can think of, by the ton, from where it is, to where it needs to go. But, you might not know that many of the big trucks running up and down I-5, I-90 and every other road in America, are built right here in the Pacific Northwest, at Kenworth Trucks in Renton.
“Kenworth has been around since 1923, that’s 94 years ago,” said Jason Skoog. He’s Kenworth’s Assistant General Manager in charge of operations and says Kenworth may be a big company now, but couldn’t have started any smaller, out of a tiny garage in South Lake Union.
“Two local businessmen in Seattle - Harry Kent and Edgar Worthington partnered together and joined the Ken and Worth part of their names to create the Kenworth Motor Truck Company,” he said.
Skoog says trucks have changed a lot over the last nine decades, and Kenworth has been on the leading edge of innovation from day one. He says Kenworth was the first American truck company to install a diesel engine in one of it’s rigs at the factory, first to offer a sleeper cab and in the 1980s, pioneered fuel saving aerodynamic truck designs that define the look of nearly every modern truck.
About 9,000 individual parts go into each Kenworth truck. And, nearly every part is massive in size. Three hundred people work at the Kenworth plant in Renton... turning out about 2800 trucks each year. Overall, Kenworth says they've built about 45,000 trucks a year over the last five years company-wide. And, from the paint, to the interior, to the choice of engine, each truck is custom built to suit the customer and job the truck will do.
"We have belief here that it takes the world's best people to build the world's best trucks and our employees show that everyday," said Scott Smith, Assistant Plant Manager. "The average years of service is 27 years. We have a breadth of knowledge."
Kenworth has four plants in North America and one in Australia. You can find more information about buying a Kenworth Truck here.