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Kenworth founders enter American Trucking and Industry Leader Hall of Fame

Oct. 27, 2023
American Truck Historical Society honors Harry Kent and Edgar Worthington for their transportation industry contributions during Kenworth’s 100th anniversary year

Kenworth Truck Company founders Harry W. Kent and Edgar K. Worthington were inducted into the American Trucking and Industry Leader Hall of Fame during an Oct. 25 ceremony at the American Truck Historical Society (ATHS) headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri.

The recognition, honoring the contributions of trucking industry pioneers to society and the economy, coincides with Kenworth’s 100th anniversary. The event commemorated the company’s milestone by displaying Kenworth trucks through the years, including two special edition models introduced in 2023: the T680 Signature Edition and W900 Limited Edition. Kenworth’s 100th Anniversary tour trailer and historical exhibit, featuring an extensive timeline of Kenworth’s history, video presentations and vintage Kenworth badges, also was displayed.

In January 1923, Harry W. Kent and Edgar K. Worthington combined their names to create Kenworth. They established the company’s headquarters in Seattle, Washington, and the first truck rolled off the manufacturing line two months later. In Kenworth’s first year, the Seattle truck manufacturer produced 78 gasoline-powered trucks. Since then, Kenworth has grown from a Pacific Northwest truck manufacturer to a global brand producing more than a million Class 5 to Class 8 models, including state-of-the-art diesel, battery electric and fuel-cell vehicles.

“A century ago, Harry Kent and Edgar Worthington successfully built a rugged and dependable truck for Pacific Northwest loggers to haul heavy loads down tight, muddy roads—an achievement that addressed a seemingly unsolvable problem at the time,” Kyle Kimball, Kenworth director of marketing, said in a news release.

“We were proud to participate in this recognition from the American Truck Historical Society in honor of that first logging truck and all the Kenworth transportation innovations since and to come that will help our customers drive the next 100 years.”

The ATHS announced the full list of 2023 Hall of Fame of honorees last summer. Additional inductees included Robert A. Young Jr., founder of ABF Freight; Ted Rodgers, first president of American Trucking Associations; Frank Seiberling, founder of Goodyear Tire & Rubber; and Al and Don Schneider, founders of Schneider National.

The ATHS Hall of Fame induction ceremony marked the last public event for Kenworth’s 100th anniversary trailer and exhibit, which covered 20,405 miles, stopped at 28 industry trade shows and community gatherings across the United States and Canada, and visited by approximately 92,000 people. To commemorate the end of the tour, Kenworth conducted a ceremonial key hand-off to Chris Koenig, whose family owns the history trailer and allowed Kenworth to restore and update it for the 100th anniversary. The trailer was originally used for Kenworth’s 75th anniversary tour in 1998 before it was purchased by the late Allen Koenig, founder of Midwest Specialized Transportation. To commemorate the final tour stop of the 100th anniversary trailer, Koenig attended the Hall of Fame festivities and brought his 75th Anniversary Limited-Edition W900L to participate in the ATHS display of Kenworth trucks through the years.

“We sincerely appreciate the Koenig family’s passion for Kenworth trucks and for allowing us to use and restore their trailer for the 100th anniversary tour,” Kimball said.

“It has been a special experience to share Kenworth’s history with the trucking community this year, something that would not have been possible without the generosity of Chris Koenig and his family, trailer sponsors Michelin, Alcoa and Bendix, and the dedication of nearly 50 Kenworth employee volunteers, including 14 drivers.”

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