Tom Bogle, a driver for over 20 years with Western Distributing, will never forget his recent trip to the Kenworth manufacturing plant when he got to take the keys of the first production W990, the all-new successor to the truck maker's longstanding W900 truck. He was invited to represent the carrier's drivers in taking delivery of the truck, one of six Western Distributing purchased through MHC Kenworth-Denver.
Joining Bogle were Western Distributing’s Marty Garcia, vice president, and Marty Rau, general manager of the company’s refrigerated division, along with employees of the Kenworth plant in Chillicothe, OH.
"It seemed like the whole town of Chillicothe came out to see us take delivery," Garcia said. "The reason we purchased Kenworth W990s—five sleeper units and one day cab—was for our drivers," he noted.
"Tom's been with us since October 1996. We're a company that differentiates itself by the trucks we operate—a fleet of 200 trucks—and all but 10% are long-hood traditional trucks," Garcia pointed out. "The others are aerodynamic models."
He said that formula emphasizing long-hood conventional trucks is a big driver retention boost: "Eighty percent of our drivers never leave," he contended.
Western Distributing is spec'ing these W990s with Paccar MX-13 engines with 510 hp. "We've been running the Paccar engine since they first came out and have had great success—we wouldn't want a truck without it," Garcia said. "We're also running 18-speed transmissions, something our long-tenured drivers really like."
"From there, we let each driver select how they'd like their truck spec'd—the chrome options, light bars, visors and air horns, for example," he emphasized. "Inside, they can pick the number of bunks they'd like, plus the color of their trim package and other amenities."
The first production W990, a day cab, will be used for regional deliveries around the Denver area. Bogle, Garcia and Rau were given a plant tour where they saw Western Distributing’s W990s with 76-in. sleepers being built. "I was able to sign the back panel of my assigned W990 while the truck was being assembled," said Bogle, adding, "I’ll have my own autographed truck to drive in a few weeks—I can't wait."
For Bogle, the attention to detail and build quality of the W990 and enthusiasm from the Chillicothe employees stood out. "I'm an old school driver," he quipped. "I’ve always liked the look of the W900 and have driven them in the past, but the added room—especially between the seats—with the W990 is just great. I'm a big guy, so the added space is what I really like besides the look of the truck."
"I think it's also great how when the truck is parked, the passenger seat can swivel around to the sleeper," he added. "I also like the rotating table. I'm just chomping at the bit to start driving the Kenworth W990."