Making the Transition from Tenant to Owner That tenant was the Gerlinger Motor Car Company, and the company wasn’t doing very well. But then, it put out its first truck in 1915, which was the Gersix, a six-cylinder truck. Two years later Worthington bought the company, which at the time had two offices: Seattle and Portland, and renamed it the Gersix Motor Company, and partnered with Fredrick Kent. Kent’s son Harry, took it over from him in 1919, and in 1922 the Gersix truck did well and they sold 53 of them in 1922. In 1923 they incorporated and named the company Kenworth after their two last names. Thus Kenworth trucks were born.
Kenworth Trucks: The Early Years
The new Kenworth Trucks did fairly well over the next two years, selling at least two trucks a week. Custom made trucks were their hino motor sales indonesia
hallmark product. As time went on, the company grew even more profitable with higher production levels. To save on costs, Kenworth decided to start making their trucks in Canada to save duty charges. By 1929 they were so successful that they needed to open a new factory in Seattle, Washington and Harry Kent became the president of the company.
Kenworth Trucks: The Depression Years
During the Great Depression between 1930 and 1932, the company had its own financial issues, but they tried to stay afloat and did that by starting to make fire trucks in 1932. Their custom fire trucks made all the fire chiefs want one because Kenworth could input the ideas they wanted into the trucks, while other companies either could not or would not do it for them, making innovation their saving factor.
Kenworth Trucks: After the Depression
Once the Depression was finally subsiding, Kenworth started to do better again and was the first trucking company in the U.S. to put diesel engines in their vehicles as standard equipment. This worked well for its customers since at the time diesel was much cheaper than gasoline. Kenworth also made and sold its very first sleeper cab in 1933, and two years later it started making some of its truck parts using aluminum.
As the next couple of years came and went, Kenworth came out with its bubble nose cab over engine truck, and it managed to sell 226 trucks in 1940. Sadly though, Harry Kent died in 1937 and Phil Johnson became company president.
Kenworth Trucks: The War Years
During the WWII Kenworth did its patriotic duty and produced 430, 4-ton heavyweight trucks, and then another 1,500 more, making it a high producer for the military. They were custom made for the Army and came with cranes, winches, cutting, welding and flood lights. Kenworth also made non-truck items for the war effort such as parts for the B-17 and B-29 airplanes.
Kenworth Trucks: The After War Years
In 1944 the company lost another president with the death of Phil Johnson and was bought by Paul Pigott of the Pacific Car and Foundry (PACCAR) and the following year it made 485 military trucks and 427 civilian commercial trucks, raising that to 705 commercial trucks the next year. The company was then making trucks for Hawaii and by 1950, it was so successful it was able to start distributing its vehicles to 27 locations outside the US, making its foreign profits up to 40 percent of its sales.
Kenworth was making 30 different models by this time as well and in 1951 it was rewarded with a huge deal with the Arabian American Oil Company They sold 1,700 trucks and had a huge role in helping to develop the oil reserves in the middle east. By the year 1955 it was producing trucks in British Columbia and formed the Canadian subsidiary: Canadian Kenworth Limited.