A century ago, the Kenworth brand started building logging trucks in the Pacific Northwest. Now, more than a million trucks later, the company is celebrating 100 years all year long.
“We think about all of the employees that came before us over the decades and the 100 years that made Kenworth into a strong brand, and we know that there will be employees after us that will continue Kenworth as a strong brand,” says Kenworth General Manager and Paccar Vice President Kevin Baney. “We are super excited to be part of the team that celebrates Kenworth’s 100 years.”
Kenworth’s first year, 1923, Harry W. Kent and Edgar K. Worthington made 78 six-cylinder, gas-powered trucks. This year, the company will be showcasing a 1923 truck at events around the country. It says that its top speed is around 18 miles an hour in fourth gear and it has to be hand-cranked to start.
Baney says the problems that those 1923 trucks helped solve for America’s loggers prove that the company is ready to take on future challenges. Nowadays, all the talk is electric trucks. One of Kenworth’s most popular models, the classic W900, won’t be electrified, company brass say, but the company will continue to produce it in an internal combustion engine.
“We have a full lineup of electric vehicles that will meet the regulatory and market demand,” Baney said in a press conference Wednesday.
But even without the W900 in an EV, the company says it’s well positioned to meet the challenges of the regulatory environment and further technological disruption in the industry.
“We think of them as opportunities,” Baney says. “We’re excited about what the future brings.”
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In the immediate future, Kenworth is focusing on showing off its history. In addition to the 1923 truck and two special edition trucks, Kenworth is upfitting a special trailer to bring to trade shows around the country. It will feature displays on company history for the public to walk through. And even at shows where the trailer won’t appear, Kenworth made special display panels to show off its 100 years in trucking.
“This is our acknowledgement of that history and our opportunity to share that with the public,” Genevieve Bekkerus, Kenworth’s director of marketing, says.
Events where Kenworth will be showing off its trucks and history include the Chillicothe Truck Parade, a parade in Kirkland, Washington, and the Renton River Days, as well as at industry trade shows around the country.
The Kenworth 100 website is accessible 24/7 and features the special edition trucks, a comprehensive history of the company, a gallery of photos from the company’s archives, stories from the Kenworth family, social campaigns, branded merchandise and kids’ content.
“Kenworth100.com is a great resource for learning more about Kenworth’s history as well as our 100th anniversary merchandise and special edition trucks,” says Kenworth Assistant General Manager for Sales and Marketing Jim Walenczak.