Mack Trucks is “Here To Stay,” Company Announces at LVEDC Event
By Colin McEvoy on November 11, 2015
Mack Trucks has a long and rich history in the Lehigh Valley and, as the company made clear during the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation’s (LVEDC) fall signature event, it plans to continue its presence here long into the future.
“I want to confirm with the local community: we’re here to stay,” said Wade Watson, Mack Tucks vice president and general manager. “We’ve been here for a long time. This is where our heritage is. We’re committed to the Lehigh Valley.”
More than 200 people attended LVEDC’s Fall Signature Event today, entitled “Mack Trucks in the Lehigh Valley and in the World.” Each year, this event will spotlight an existing company in the region that exemplifies a particular industry, in this case manufacturing.
Speaking at the Mack Trucks facility in Lower Macungie Township, LVEDC President and CEO Don Cunningham noted that manufacturing is strong in the Lehigh Valley, making up $4.95 billion of the region’s gross domestic product, or 14 percent of our total $35.4 billion GDP.
“At the core of that is the story that we all need to know and understand and that is the Mack trucks story,” Cunningham said. “All too often, Mack Trucks in our conventional wisdom gets lumped in as part of our ‘past economy.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. Mack Trucks is alive and well in the Lehigh Valley.”
Mack Trucks builds all of its trucks for the North American market in the Lehigh Valley, and last year enjoyed the biggest output its plant has ever seen. The facility produces 116 trucks a day. Mack Trucks has shown an overall trajectory of growth from 1986 to 2014, despite a few “peaks and valley” from year to year.
The company anticipates the sale of 310,000 total North American Class 8 trucks in 2015.
“Over the last couple of years, we’ve had peak volumes in the plant, we’ve had peak volumes in the industry, but Mack Trucks is not yet at peak market share, so we still have room to grow,” Watson said. “Even in a peak market where we’re building at peak volumes, we see that we can take even more market share to get to historic levels.”
Cunningham noted that Mack Trucks is a significant part of why the Lehigh Valley GDP has reached an all-time high. The manufacturing portion of the GDP grew by 4.1 percent over the previous year, making the region at 64th largest output of manufacturing out of 351 major metropolitan areas in the Lehigh Valley.
“The Lehigh Valley is experiencing more economic output than it has ever seen, even in the days of Bethlehem Steel and the industrial base that existed here,” Cunningham said. “We have an incredibly balanced, mixed economy across our region, and manufacturing is a major factor in that.”
The Lehigh Valley facility employs 1,866 workers, up from 812 in 2009. Volvo Group, the parent company for Mack Trucks, employes about 100,000 people around the world.
Watson also discussed Mack Trucks’ plans for growth at its Lower Macungie Township facility. The company plans to improve the facade and docks of the existing facility over the next two years, which he said will result in improved flow, shorter customer lead time, and higher capacity.
“We want to further expand our presence in the market, we want to be socially responsible citizens, and we want to be deeply involved in the community,” he said.
Watson discussed the transport solution technology that go into the company’s trucks, including adaptive cruise control, anti-collision systems, sensor to improve safety and efficiency, and cellular connectivity to monitor the performance of the vehicle. He also discussed future technology in the pipeline, including automated driving vehicles, and the ability for trucks to foresee upcoming terrain using geographic location and adjust accordingly.
“We are the only manufacturer that exclusively builds in the United States for the United States,” he said. “Every one of our competitors has a plant in Mexico and we have consciously decided not to do that. We have to compete against those other companies that buy cheap labor in Mexico and ship it across the border, but we choose to employ Americans to make American trucks.”
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