Peterbilt marks 70th anniversary

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It was 70 years ago when T.A. Peterman, after producing trucks to meet the needs of his lumber business in Tacoma, Wash., began to sell his trucks to the public. That venture grew into Peterbilt Motors, which this week celebrated its 70th anniversary.

On Wednesday, July 29, and Thursday, July 30, General Manager Bill Jackson and his colleagues celebrated the event with dealers, top customers and community leaders at the company’s headquarters in Denton, Texas. In its 70 years, Peterbilt has produced almost 700,000 trucks, Jackson told employees of the Denton manufacturing plant as they enjoyed cake during the anniversary celebration.

“Class pays,” he said, emphasizing the theme the company has used for decades. “Since our first truck was produced in 1939, Peterbilt has become one of the most widely recognized and respected brands in the world – a universal symbol of pride, quality and class. This significant milestone could not be accomplished without the support of Peterbilt’s dedicated employees, a superior dealer network and committed suppliers, as well as our valued customers and the community we serve.”

Nearly 100 model configurations have marked Peterbilt’s history, said Larry Reding, assistant general manager of sales and marketing. “From the first logging trucks of the ’30s and revolutionary cabover vehicles in the ’40s, to the birth of an industry icon – the Model 359 in the ’60s – Peterbilts have set the pace,” Reding said. “In the ’70s and ’80s, the workhorses that built America were Peterbilt Models 348, 362 and legendary Model 379.”

Starting with the Model 387 in the ’90s, Peterbilt has launched a series of aerodynamic fuel-efficient trucks. Improvements in aerodynamics, productivity and payload maximization have been a staple throughout company history, said Landon Sproull, chief engineer. “Peterbilt’s product history is a roadmap of revolutionary engineering solutions that continue to surpass customers’ requirements and set the bar for the industry,” Sproull said.

This year also marks a milestone – the 60th anniversary – for the company’s dealer network. Coast Counties Truck and Equipment in San Jose, Calif., began selling Peterbilts in 1949; the network has since grown to 247 locations in North America.