Celebrating a Milestone: Kenworth Chillicothe Plant Delivers 750,000th Truck to Heartland Express

Heartland Express recently received a special delivery of a Kenworth T680 Signature Edition with a 76-inch-high roof sleeper. The delivery occurred during a ceremony at Kenworth’s Chillicothe plant which marked the production of the plant’s 750,000th truck since opening in 1974. Heartland Express’ CEO, Mike Gerdin was present to receive the keys to the historic truck from Kevin Baney, Kenworth General Manager and PACCAR Vice President. Also in attendance were Jim Walenczak, Kenworth Assistant General Manager for Sales and Marketing, Doug VanZuiden, Kenworth Chillicothe Plant Manager, and Preston Hinkle, MHC Kenworth Regional Vice President and General Manager.

“This is a special year for Kenworth. We’re celebrating our 100th anniversary, and our Chillicothe plant met yet another milestone with the production of its 750,000th truck,” said Baney. “It’s a tribute to all that have worked at this plant over the years since it opened nearly 50 years ago. We couldn’t be happier this historic truck is going to a long-time customer like Heartland Express. It’s a fleet that began operation just after the Chillicothe plant opened, and it’s in its second generation as a family-run business – growing to more than 6,000 trucks.”

Heartland Express, a publicly traded company headquartered in North Liberty, Iowa, operates four trucking businesses: Heartland Express, CFI, Millis Transfer, and Smith Transport. As part of its commitment to enhancing its fleet, Heartland has ordered over 500 T680s from Kenworth for 2023, through its dealer MHC Kenworth – Cedar Rapids. Among them is the T680 Signature Edition, which runs on a PACCAR MX-13 engine with a horsepower rating of 455, and a PACCAR TX-12 automated transmission.

“We’re so excited to receive this Signature Edition Kenworth T680 anniversary truck. The Century Platinum paint job will really stand out from our traditional white Heartland fleet trucks,” said Gerdin. “This truck is going to be presented to a special driver shortly and will mean as much to that driver as it does to us. We are so very proud and honored to drive the 750,000th truck out of the Chillicothe plant. The employees here do a great job – they have pride in the quality of the trucks they’re building, and you can see their passion.”

The T680 Signature Edition Diamond VIT is equipped with sleek black onyx grille and side air intake, and highlighted by striking Kenworth 100 badges on the sleeper. The black interior design boasts legacy red stitching accents throughout the cab and sleeper, complemented by a Kenworth 100 branded GT703 seat featuring red accents. Brushed platinum dash and door trim add to the luxurious feel. Plus, the Kenworth 100 logo is expertly stitched into the sleeper back wall for the ultimate statement of style and quality.

Gerdin said a plant tour he took years ago reinforced his decision to purchase Kenworths.

“The first thing I noticed was the people,” he said. “I talked with many of those working on the line and you could tell they cared deeply for what they were doing and had pride in the quality of trucks they were producing. When trucks are delivered to us by MHC, drivers are almost fighting to get in them. We love the fuel economy and reliability we get from these trucks, and the drivers love the look and the ride.”

“It’s great that Mike understands and appreciates what happens behind the scenes building trucks at our Kenworth plant,” said VanZuiden, Kenworth’s Chillicothe plant manager. “We delivered our 500,000th truck back in 2016, which doesn’t seem that long ago. We take our World’s Best slogan to heart.”

According to Gerdin, his company expanded their relationship with Kenworth back in 2016, ordering more than 500 trucks annually. He feels this deepening of their relationship was thanks to the great relationship established with MHC Kenworth.

“They are a fantastic operation,” he said. “They’ve always gone the distance for us and have proven their worth to me over and over. It’s why we purchase so many trucks from Kenworth. But my relationship with Kenworth goes back decades. I have a picture of my grandpa, dad and myself standing in front of a Kenworth cabover when I was three years old. That was in 1972. Back then, my first job was washing wheels, since that’s all I could reach. Trucks have always been in my family’s blood, and it continues to this day.”


Source: Chillicothe Gazette