History of Kenworth Trucks

Kenworth is one of the renowned names in manufacturing medium and heavy duty class 8 trucks. The company is the subsidiary of PACCAR. Before manufacturing trucks Kenworth was known for producing school buses and transit buses. It is beautiful to know how a company of humble beginnings evolved over 90 years and now one of America’s most sought after manufacturer of heavy duty automobiles.

Let’s dive in and see how Kenworth grew over 90 years and the critical success factors that have worked in Kenworth’s favor.


It began in 1912 in Portland, Oregon. Two brothers George T. and Louis Gerlinger, Jr. had started this company. They started very humbly by taking dealership of cars and trucks and named it as Gerlinger Motor Car Works. But within two years something clicked and they were not happy with just dealership of other trucks. They wanted to manufacture something of their own. So in 1914, they started their own manufacturing of trucks. In their new trucks they decided to use a more powerful engine than usual trucks had at that time, an inline six-cylinder engine. This was at that time an innovation and first time it was used in any commercial trucks.

In 1916, the Gerlinger Motor Company moved to Tacoma, Washington. The founders of Gerlinger Motor Company took lease from Seattle businessman Edgar K. Worthington and he seemed to get intrigued by the success and the potential of Gerlinger Motor Company. Later, in 1917, Worthington and his business partner Captain Frederick Kent purchased the company. In 1919, Captain Kent retired from the business, so his son Harry Kent became the new partner of Worthington in the company. The company was making great progress and in 1923, Kent and Worthington reincorporated the company by name Kenworth (Ken’ and Worth’). In 1926 they started producing buses and Kenworth truck parts. And since then there is no looking back.

In 1945, the Kenworth Company was bought by The Pacific Car and Foundry Company. In 1960, The Pacific Car and Foundry Company became an international truck manufacturer. Kenworth moved to Mexico with the minor stake of 49 per cent.

In 1967, a new division was being born. It was called Dynacraft division which was founded to provide hoses, adapters, belts and other accessories Kenworth truck plants.

In 1972, realizing that The Pacific Car and Foundry Company no longer reflected the products of the company, the shareholders and directors decided to reform the name and made it PACCAR Inc. The Pacific Car and Foundry Company became a division of PACCAR, located in its original Renton facility.

Critical Success Factors

What’s intriguing about this company is that its ability to stick to fundamentals. These fundamentals have helped them to evolve from producing Kenworth truck parts and buses to becoming the most accredited truck producer in America within just 92 years.

Let’s look at what made them tick.

  • Innovation: What started as the two brothers began in the year 1914, the innovation of using an inline six-cylinder engine, is still being carried by Kenworth. They are still the top most manufacturer of trucks which is using cutting edge technology and innovation. As we know that in this era of fierce competition, it is mandatory to encourage creativity and innovation in a company if a company wants to grow. Kenworth encourages every employee to be innovative and add value to company’s growth.


The latest dynamics in Kenworth truck parts and advanced aerodynamics allow Kenworth to remain in the topmost position in manufacturing truck. This non-negotiable commitment to innovation and continuous improvement are the cornerstones of Kenworth’s success and amazing growth.


  • Performance: Only talks don’t help. A company’s success depends on how well they walk their talk. And Kenworth has done exactly that. They never compromise on the Kenworth truck parts they use in the commercial trucks and the best of the design which they use for excellent performance and endurance of the trucks.


From Kenworth truck parts to commercial trucks, Kenworth’s tough and workhouse solutions have made all the difference in the durability and performance even in the most demanding situations. In any condition, where normal truck is frightened to tread, the Kenworth trucks deliver peak performance and offer magnificent results.


  • Quality: This is one of the most significant success factors of Kenworth trucks. Since 1923, when the first Kenworth product was manufactured, that day onward it is Kenworth’s legacy to provide absolutely top-class quality to everything they build. From durability of the trucks, increasing the comfort level of the driver to optimal driving efficiency are the primary motto of Kenworth.


Thus, what Kenworth is known for is their amazing commitment to quality and uncompromising efficiency in craftsmanship. They are second to none in quality and they are still the best manufacturer of trucks in America.

These are the three most critical success factors which are the reasons why Kenworth is at its summit right now, enjoying the success of being the best in the industry even in this age of cut-throat competition.

Now where Kenworth stands

The question which remains unanswered is that where Kenworth now stands. It is a pride moment for Kenworth to declare that in 2014, Kenworth produced its one millionth truck Chillicothe, Ohio, assembly facility. The truck was Kenworth T680 Advantage powered by a PACCAR MX-13 engine. This truck was also equipped with an aerodynamic facility which helped the truck to take the turn without tilting a bit as well toward the road.

Kenworth’s motto of manufacturing trucks is sustainability and in today’s era environment is of utter importance. And they start with design. They use a kind of Eco Design software through which it is easier to identify less hazardous Kenworth trucks parts and materials while trying to improve the chances of recyclability of the trucks they are producing.

Kenworth is also very aware of their social responsibility. They believe in offering the best quality products to public and maintaining all ethical standards without compromising anything for the sake of making profit. Thus, the internal stakeholders, i.e. employees, shareholders, management and external stakeholders, i.e. customers, Government, community, suppliers are properly taken care of and given importance to their individual requirements. Maintaining these simple yet fundamental standards have made Kenworth one of the sought after companies in all over the world.