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Bill Kozek returns home to Peterbilt as top executive

Bill Kozek address reporters at a news conference at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky., Wednesday. (The Trucker: KEVIN JONES)

By LYNDON FINNEY
The Trucker Staff

3/22/2012

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Bill Kozek is proof you can go home again.

The long-time affable, energetic trucking executive took the podium for the first time as general manager of Peterbilt Motors Co. at the company’s annual Mid-America Trucking Show news conference here Wednesday and immediately expressed his joy at being back at the OEM as general manager and Paccar vice president.

“It’s really a great time to return to Peterbilt as last year we had one of our best years in our 73-year history,” he told assembled reporters. “Record Class 8 market share. Record build rate at our (Denton) Texas facility. We hired over 1,000 new employees, expanded our successful dealer network by 11 locations and launched a number of new and innovative products to the market.”

The latest product is the Model 579 Class 8 truck introduced at the trucking show Wednesday.

Kozek started with Peterbilt as a cost accountant in 1987 and has stayed with Paccar, Peterbilt’s parent company, in one capacity or another for 25 years, including a recent stint as general manager at Kenworth Truck Co. before spending six months in China exploring ways Paccar could serve the Asian market.

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Hesaid not only is it a good time to be at Peterbilt, but a good time to be working in the trucking industry.

“We continue to see a stable and growing economy,” he said. “The key indicators show an improvement and/or a healthy environment. Fleets continue to report positive earnings. Truck freight volumes are strong. Fleets have steadily replaced aging vehicles as their confidence in market conditions continues to grow. And the used truck market remains strong especially for  regional applications.”

While diesel price fluctuations are a concern, historically the industry has successfully recovered diesel fuel charges, Kozek noted.

“In addition to our industry indicators, the U.S. and Canadia economies are showing positive growth in key segments. GDP and industrial production have both indicated growth this year. Unemployment is below 9 percent, the lowest level in four years. And finally, the two key manufacturing sectors, housing and automotive sales, show positive signs which we all know is a strong indicator for our economy.”

All of which adds up to a glowing forecast for Class 8 sales.

Like most industry executives, Kozek predicts up to a 20 percent increase in 2012 in the class 8 market with a range of 215,000 to 240,000 units.

“This could be the fourth best year in North American Class 8 history,” he said, adding, “As you can see, we are confident the market will continue to transition to one of steady growth which is great news for Peterbilt, its customers and the industry.”

The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at editor@thetrucker.com.

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