North Texas Daily

Under the hood with Peterbilt Motors

Under the hood with Peterbilt Motors

June 15
12:06 2012

Jason Yang / Intern

Earth is under attack.

While the planet is in a state of chaos, four asteroids hurtle through space. Struggling to conceal robotic, humanoid forms after making their fiery landings, the asteroids-turned-alien-robots morph into cars for cover. While most of the robots from the movie “Transformers” choose speed over size, their leader, Optimus Prime, selects heavy duty, blue truck with a red flame decal – model 379 by Peterbilt Motors, manufactured at the company’s plant in Denton.

The fictional robot commander’s choice is sensible. Peterbilt is one of three major American truck manufacturing companies and a “Fortune” top-160 company.

Founded in 1939, Peterbilt opened its manufacturing facility in Denton in 1980. By 1993, Denton was also home to the company’s headquarters and its lone U.S. manufacturing plant. With 1,500 to 1,700 nonunion workers, Peterbilt is the 8th largest employer in Denton County, according to the county’s budget office.

Bill Kozek, general manager and Paccar [Peterbilt’s parent company] vice president, looks, on the outside, like a standard corporate everyman: pinstripe suit, crisp white shirt and tie.

Underneath the businessman exterior is a man with experience in just about every aspect of truck manufacturing.

With the experience he has accumulated in 25 years at the company, Kozek said he intends to keep steering Peterbilt in the right direction, putting out quality trucks and creating jobs in Denton.

The quality and care that goes into turning thousands of pounds of metal into road-ready trucks is evident at the Peterbilt plant. Employees – dressed in navy workshirts, navy or khaki pants, steel-toed shoes, safety goggles and gloves – work restlessly at different assembly lines amidst a cacophony of banging parts and showers of sparks, while the smell of oil extends throughout the factory. These employees construct and inspect the trucks, while engineers also inspect the trucks for safety and additional modifications.

Bill Chaney, owner of Chaney Truck Company in Roanoke, has been a client of Peterbilt since the 1970s. Chaney said he buys Peterbilt trucks for quality product and high resale value, but really values the company’s relationship with the community.

“Mary Kay was a big customer and wanted pink trucks,” Kozek said. “So we built some of the most beautiful pink trucks I’ve ever seen.”

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