Photo: Neil Abt/Fleet Owner
A Mack Anthem and Ferrari race car owned by Vital Speed at Portland International Raceway.

Mack looks west for on-highway growth with Anthem

July 15, 2019
For Vital Speed Motorsports, the iconic bulldog proves to be the perfect choice to transport Ferraris

Armed with its flagship Anthem tractor and expanding dealership network, Mack Trucks said it is poised to grow its presence in the western United States.

During a multi-state media event, executives, dealers and customers all agreed the pieces are in place for Mack to find new success in a region traditionally dominated by competiting truck makers with home bases in the west.

"The Anthem is getting us into more and more fleets," said Jonathan Randall, Mack's senior vice president of sales and marketing. Through product demos and other outreach efforts, truckers throughout the country are giving Mack a look for their longhaul needs, even if the company had never truly been "in consideration before."

"Mack is right for the highway," Roy Horton, Mack's director of product strategy, repeatedly said as he officially kicked off the first media stop in Portland, OR.

He and Randall acknowledged Mack is stronger in the construction and refuse sectors, and lags behind other brands in the west, where high horsepower and big block engines are desired to navigate the more mountainous terrain than in the east.  

Yet, the Mack executives believe this mindset is slowly changing. 

The launch of the Anthem proved to be “a very successful event for us,” Horton said. While it may have benefitted from entering the market at a time of high overall demand, it has surpassed all expectations since first being unveiled in September 2017. 

The most aerodynamic and fuel efficient Anthem, including the MP8HE engine, can offer up to a 9.5% gain in fuel economy over the base model. The Anthem is also earning praise for its driver-focused design and easy reach console that reduces any possible distractions that can lead to safety events, Horton said. 

Even while seeing a tremendous opportunity for growth with the Anthem, Randall stressed Mack has “modest” goals in the longhaul segment.

“We are not going to be No. 1 player in that category,” he said. But as the Anthem and integrated powertrain gains additional exposure, Randall was confident Mack would steadily improve its position.

The company announced during the media event it has built its 100,000th truck equipped with the GuardDog Connect system. Horton said it has led to a 24% improvement in shop efficiency, with diagnostic, repair and check-in times shrinking substantially.

The more than 400 Mack dealers across the United States and Canada have invested $700 million since 2010, boosting the number of service bays, master technicians and salesmen.

Mack’s largest dealership in the western United States is TEC Equipment. Headquartered in Portland, TEC Equipment was founded by David Thompson as a single truck dealer in 1976. It has since expanded to nearly 30 dealerships.

Chris Thompson, David’s son who serves as new truck sales manager in Portland, said numerous dealership expansions were underway, allowing TEC to provide more complete service along the entire Interstate 5 corridor.

TEC also sells Volvo Trucks, as well as Wabash trailers and several other smaller brands across Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona.

One local Pacific Northwest customer who choose to go with the Mack Anthem for its transport needs is Vital Speed Motorsports. Founded by Rich Baek in 2015, Vital Speed races Ferrari 488 GT3s in the Ferrari Challenge North America series.

While observing the racing team conduct testing of Ferraris at the Portland International Raceway, he attributed the decision to purchase Mack Anthems over other models to the recommendation of his truck drivers. He also credited TEC for its ability to be a “single source for all things” required to support the racing team.

Baek added Anthem’s “quality and toughness” of Mack blends well with the speed and precision his high-performance Ferraris are known for.

(Editor's note: Check back Tuesday for additional coverage from the Mack media event.)

About the Author

Neil Abt

Neil Abt, editorial director at Fleet Owner, is a veteran journalist with over 20 years of reporting experience, including 15 years spent covering the trucking industry. A graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., he began his career covering sports for The Washington Post newspaper, followed by a position in the newsroom of America Online (AOL) and then both reporting and leadership roles at Transport Topics. Abt is based out of Portland, Oregon.

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