KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On Oct. 26, Kenworth Truck Company announced that its founders, Harry W. Kent and Edgar K. Worthington, were inducted into the 2023 American Trucking and Industry Leader Hall of Fame class.
A ceremony honoring the Kenworth founders’ contributions to the trucking industry was held on Oct. 25 at the American Truck Historical Society (ATHS) headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, according to a news release.
The recognition, honoring the trucking industry pioneers to society and the economy, occurred during the same time as Kenworth’s 100th anniversary.
For Kenworth’s 100th anniversary, the company displayed a tour trailer and historical exhibit featuring an extensive timeline of Kenworth’s history, video presentations and vintage Kenworth badges. They also displayed the classic Kenworth trucks throughout the 100 years and introducing the two special edition Kenworth models from this year: the T680 Signature Edition and W900 Limited Edition.
In January 1923, Harry W. Kent and Edgar K. Worthington combined their names to create the business name Kenworth and established their company’s headquarters in Seattle, Washington. The first truck rolled off the manufacturing line just two months later, in March 1923. 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,” said Kyle Kimball, Kenworth’s director of marketing. “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 the 2023 Hall of Fame of honorees last summer. Additional inductees were: Robert A. Young Jr., founder of ABF Freight; Ted Rodgers, first president of American Trucking Associations; Frank Seiberling, founder of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.; and Al and Don Schneider, founders of Schneider National Inc. A tour of the ATHS visitor center took place following this year’s induction ceremony. Past inductees, as well as ATHS members and its board of directors, attended. This is the third year the ATHS honored pioneers in the trucking industry.
“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,” said Kimball. “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.”
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 was 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.
“My dad loved trucks, especially Kenworths. He was a firm believer in the Kenworth product, which is why he only operated Kenworth trucks when he owned Midwest Specialized Transportation,” said Chris Koenig. “I know he is looking down and smiling that the trailer was put to good use to teach the younger generation about the history of the company he took so much pride in.”
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.