Peterbilt Motors started building heavy-duty trucks in Denton, Texas 40 years ago this month. After nearly doubling in size in four decades, the plant is evidence of the adage that everything is bigger in Texas. Or it grows to become that way.
Located about an hour’s drive north from Fort Worth, the facility has become the main manufacturing facility for the PACCAR Inc. (NASDAQ: PCAR) brand. The plant began operation as a 435,000 square-foot facility with 81 employees on 80 acres of land.
Today the plant sits on 238 acres. It employs more than 2,500 people. And its multiple buildings cover more than 700,000 square feet of space. Two of the original 81 employees still work there.
Peterbilt has assembled more than 629,000 on-highway, vocational and medium-duty trucks in Denton.
Preparing for an electrified future
“We’re constantly investing and implementing new technologies and processes to improve our quality and efficiency for the future,” said Leon Handt, Peterbilt assistant general manager of operations.
“The past five years alone have seen investments in automated overhead parts storage and retrieval, automated guided vehicle assembly lines, additional emissions reduction equipment, a brand new test building as well as numerous enhancements throughout the plant,” Handt said.
Flexible manufacturing will allow electric trucks to be assembled on the same production line as diesel models. Peterbilt and sister brand Kenworth will sell battery-electric powered trucks in 2021.
“It’s [the] early days, and we feel like we’re really on top of it, and we’re focused on a plan that is actionable and buildable,” PACCAR CEO Preston Feight said on the company’s second-quarter earnings call on July 21.
History preserved inside Peterbilt Experience
The Peterbilt Experience inside the Denton plant allows customers to glimpse the company’s past, present and future.The first truck to roll off the Denton plant assembly line — a Model 359 Class 8 daycab — is there.
So are other classics and the latest Peterbilt models. Cab and sleeper cutaways and PACCAR’s lineup of engines and powertrains share space with multiple interactive displays.
“In a regular year we have thousands of people touring the Peterbilt Denton Plant,” said Robert Woodall, Peterbilt assistant general manager of sales and marketing. “It is one of the strongest selling tools we have.”