Western Star Announces Plans For Transition of Operations

Western Star Trucks today announced details about the transition of its manufacturing and other operations to Portland, Ore. The company is making a $16 million investment to prepare the Portland Truck Manufacturing Plant for Western Star heavy-duty truck production. In addition, Western Star engineering, manufacturing, customer support and other technical staff are relocating to Portland. The investments in facilities and personnel are intended to ensure a successful changeover of operations and to preserve the Western Star brand. Portland production of Western Star trucks begins in October 2002. "Western Star is renowned for delivering distinctive, high quality trucks and providing superb customer support," said Rainer Schmueckle, President and CEO, Freightliner LLC, parent company of Western Star. "During and after these operational changes, we are committed to maintaining the quality, unique character and prestige of the Western Star brand." Western Star Trucks, headquartered in Willoughby, Ohio, produces premium, custom trucks for long-haul and vocational applications. The company announced in October 2001 that it would be relocating truck production and other operations from Kelowna, British Columbia, to Portland. Over the past several months, Western Star has made significant preparations to ensure quality and continuity in manufacturing, engineering, customer support and other key functions.The Portland Truck Manufacturing Plant is undergoing major renovations to prepare for Western Star production. The company is building dedicated cab, chassis and sleeper lines for the Western Star product as well as a state-of-the-art E-coat system. Throughout the plant, processes and equipment are being upgraded, added or reconfigured to build the Western Star product. In addition, the renowned Western Star Quality Assurance system is being implemented. "Our goal is to preserve and enhance the distinct manufacturing processes that create this unique heavy-duty truck," said Roger Nielsen, Chief Operating Officer for Freightliner LLC. "While we are moving production locations, Western Star trucks will retain the same custom-built, handcrafted quality for which they are famous."The Portland truck plant is an ideal location for Western Star production, according to Nielsen. Opened in 1969, the plant has built a number of highly specialized vehicles over the years including U.S. military trucks and airport rescue/response vehicles."Employees at the Portland truck plant are accustomed to building smaller-run, customized vehicles, including trucks with planetary axles, heavy suspensions and extreme-duty components," Nielsen said. "These workers have tremendous pride and skill and are looking forward to building Western Star trucks." Production of Western Star trucks in Kelowna, B.C., will continue through September of this year.Western Star has major plans for growth in North America as well as in export markets. Among other developments, the company recently unveiled a low-profile LowMax version of the Western Star 4900 EX heavy-duty truck, introduced its severe-duty product line in South Africa and launched a major new advertising campaign in the U.S. and Canada.

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