Freightliner: No plans to leave Oregon

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A Freightliner spokesman denied a published report that the truckmaker is considering moving its headquarters or its manufacturing facilities from Portland, Ore.

“There are no plans to move headquarters,” Chris Brandt said. “We’re a vibrant and growing presence here.”

Citing anonymous company sources, Starks News Service Interactive reported that new Freightliner CEO Chris Patterson probably would determine whether the company would keep its headquarters in Portland.

John A. Stark, publisher of the Chicago-based industry publication, reported that Patterson also is likely to decide whether the company would maintain its Class 8 Freightliner and Western Star manufacturing facility there.

Stark said a 2001 plan by consulting firm McKinsey & Co., enlisted to help Freightliner cut costs, reportedly “commits the firm to permanent closure of the Portland truck assembly plant and a shift in company headquarters to Auburn Hills (Mich.), starting in late 2007.” Auburn Hills is a Detroit suburb that is the home of Freightliner’s parent company, DaimlerChrysler.

DaimlerChrysler announced in February that the headquarters of its two other heavy-truck brands, Western Star and Sterling, would move from Willoughby, Ohio, to another Detroit suburb, Redford, Mich., home of DaimlerChrysler’s new 3.2-million-square-foot Detroit Diesel plant. Western Star trucks still are made in Portland, Sterling trucks in St. Thomas, Ontario.

Brandt noted Freightliner’s recent investments in Portland. In the past 18 months, the company has hired nearly 1,000 employees, including a new second shift of 700 full-time plant employees who began in July.

Also that month, Freightliner announced the opening of a $5 million wind tunnel facility near company headquarters to study the aerodynamics of heavy- and medium-duty vehicles.

In 2002, Freightliner invested $16 million to bring Western Star truck production to Portland from Kelowna, British Columbia.