Dec. 28, 2000
Mack Trucks Inc

Mack Trucks Inc. is celebrating its 100th birthday in the motor vehicle business.

Mack Trucks Inc

Mack Trucks Inc. is celebrating its 100th birthday in the motor vehicle business. At the moment, the Bulldog line is looking forward to a continuation of the good times it has enjoyed in recent years.

It was in the year 1900 that, with Jack Mack in the lead and brothers Augustus and William at his side, the Macks put their first motorized vehicle to work. It wasn’t a truck, but a bus used for touring Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Other early activities of the brothers included building wagons and repairing automobiles.

A fourth brother, Joseph, joined the company in 1905 when the firm started production in Allentown, Pa., Mack’s long-time headquarters.

Smaller associated companies came and departed as Mack established a reputation for innovation in trucks through the period between the World Wars.

AC model army trucks used in Armistice Day parades during the ’30s taught youths growing up in that era what working trucks looked like, and just after the end of WWII, Mack became deeply involved in a specialty—making major components for its trucks, such as Maxidyne diesel engines and Maxitorque transmissions.

Through the years not all Mack activities prospered. An attempt to move into production in the booming West after WWII, where the bulldog in the California factory lobby was said to look more like "Smokey the Bear," didn’t get the volume needed to survive. The serious effort to expand in the West was shelved until another program was launched there a couple of years ago.

Meanwhile, in 1990, the Mack truck business became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the French vehicle manufacturer, Renault.

Still a firm believer

The trucking industry may experience some sale softening this year, "but could end up with a sales total close to, if not above, the record high," according to Paul L. Vikner, Mack’s executive vice president, sales and marketing.

Officials of other truck producers have said much the same thing. It seems that no one is certain sales will continue at the high rate enjoyed in the late ’90s.

Vikner said Mack’s market penetration should go on expanding in 2000, with CH models leading the parade, sales of the new over-the-road Vision models expanding and RD 600 units for construction-type work staying competitive.

Recent additions to the Mack program include the new campaign to boost sales in the West, which is paced by the specialized, lightweight Vision truck line. Vikner said beefing up dealer representation and a new parts depot in Reno, Nev., are contributing to market share gains in the West.

In other moves, Mack has sophisticated its in-house engine offerings by developing 11 models of E-Tech diesels with horsepower ratings from 275 to 460. They feature the newest generation of vehicle electronics available.

Meanwhile, the line continues promoting sales in the medium-duty market, offering Mid-Liner cabover and conventional models.

While its first century in business is getting top billing at Mack this year and is the feature of a traveling historical presentation, the Bulldog company also is marking the beginning of the new millennium.

One goal to carry into 2000, according to Vikner, is the string of six consecutive years with increased market penetration.