With smiles as big as the presence established by the new Kenworth W990, executives from Fleenor Bros., Taylor Transport and Oculus Transport received the keys as the first W990 customers from Kevin Baney, Kenworth assistant general manager for sales and marketing. The presentation took place with their W990s as part of the backdrop at the grand unveiling at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Thursday evening.
All three companies, big admirers of Kenworth’s traditional W900L, are now moving ahead with the new W990 as there is nothing like owning a long-hood Kenworth.
“A well-spec’d long-hood conventional stands out in a crowd,” said Kyle Cousins, vice president of operations of Fleenor Bros., based in the southwest part of Missouri. “The big hoods get you noticed; and customers, as well as our, drivers love them. I know it’s helped in our recruiting and retention. Drivers stay in part because of our trucks. They feature 3-color paint schemes and owner-operator specs.”
Kenworth W990 - Fleenor Bros.
According to Cousins, the W9 hood has been a fixture at Fleenor Bros. for a long time. “My dad bought the company in 1986 – it was a one truck operation, and that first truck was a W9,” he said. “Today, we run all Kenworths – 50 tractors with about a third being aero models, and the rest W900Ls. We have a 1990 Limited Edition James Bond 007 tractor, plus the first and last ICON 900s produced a few years back. The W990 we spec’d out will be a great addition to our fleet. It’s spec’d to the nines, including the limited edition interior package. When it gets back to our home, we’ll dress it up even more.”
Fleenor purchases its trucks from MHC Kenworth in Joplin, Missouri, and has won beauty contest awards at the Mid-America Trucking show the past two years. “…And who knows about next year,” Cousins said with a smile. “We very well could enter the W990.”
When the Kenworth W990 returns from Las Vegas, Cousins said he already has found a driver to make the first freight delivery. “It will be me,” he said. “I love driving these trucks just like the rest of our guys. I can’t wait.”
For Cory Heck, vice president of assets and equipment for Calgary, Alberta-based Oculus Transport, buying Kenworth long hoods has been part of Oculus’ history from Day 1. “The company started in 2011 and our owner, Ric Peterson, loved the look of the classic truck. He used to drive them too.”
Kenworth W990 - Oculus Transport
Oculus operates 90 trucks, 70 percent in tanker operations, including 30 tractors used in C3+ and C4 (high vapor pressure) operations. The company’s Kenworth trucks are purchased through Inland Kenworth - Fort St. John in British Columbia. “We stand out with our long hoods and bright orange paint scheme,” said Heck. “We stick to our roots, and have pride in ownership. Image is so important to us and the Kenworth W900L, and now W990, support that image perfectly. When drivers are required to dwell in their truck, it is important that they feel rested and comfortable. I know that our equipment helps with driver retention, and we’ve seen our drivers turn up their nose at offers from other companies with lesser equipment. That really tells you something.”
The Oculus W990 is spec’d with the PACCAR MX-13 engine rated at 510-hp, and Eaton® UltraShift 18-speed transmission. “Everyone loves the PACCAR MX engine around here,” said Heck. “They’ve proven very reliable in our other trucks, plus they’re giving us better fuel economy numbers. The W990 with PACCAR MX-13 engines is a great combination for us.”
Like the other two companies, style, tradition and respect for the past is a hallmark for Taylor Transport, based outside of Atlanta. Ricky Cole is the owner of the company, but his name is not on the door. “My grandfather’s name is,” he said. “He was one of my idols growing up and he had a successful career in manufacturing and he operated seven asphalt plants. I wanted to honor him by naming our company after him.”
Kenworth W990 - Taylor Transport
That recognition of the past also comes into play with his fleet of 230 trucks, which perform duty in a wide range of operations – flatbed, step deck, van, pneumatic – even dump truck. “We have a lot of operations going, but the majority is in flatbed,” he said. “We have a great team here — RJ Martin and Lewis Collum — help run our operation. People have long told us that we set trends with our equipment, and I think we do. We’ll even show our long-hood Kenworths at one or two truck beauty shows each year. In addition to our W900s, which include 16 ICON 900s, we run some Kenworth T880s and T680s, and spec them like owner operator trucks. We’ve molded our company around our equipment and dedication to service. We don’t have a sales department – our sales come directly from our reputation, our drivers, and our equipment.”
Just like Cousins and Heck, Cole purchased the W990 sight unseen, merely a picture of the W990 shown by his Kenworth dealer. “We liked the styling and looks – it could be the truck of our future,” he said. “You have to change with the times and the W990 gives us the look of the past, coupled with better aerodynamics and comfort thanks to the new cab and sleeper interior. We’re looking forward to putting the truck to work.”
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Kenworth Truck Company is the manufacturer of The World’s Best® heavy and medium duty trucks. Kenworth’s Internet home page is at www.kenworth.com. Kenworth is a PACCAR company.