Canadian truck plants reach milestones

ST. THOMAS & CHATHAM, Ont. (Oct. 10, 2003) — Both Sterling Trucks and International Trucks are celebrating production milestones at each of their Canadian truck manufacturing plants.

Sterling held a ceremony this week as employees, dealers, and customers watched the 100,000th Sterling truck built at the St. Thomas, Ont. facility come off the line. The plant, which produces Sterling’s conventional vehicles for distribution in North America and export markets, was originally constructed in 1991 to build Freightliner-brand trucks, before Freightliner bought the Sterling brand in 1997 from Ford. The following year, Freightliner founded Sterling Truck Corp. as a subsidiary with its own distribution network and products. Sterling produced its first truck in February 1998. The plant has grown to 440,000 square feet and employs 1,200 workers.

“Sterling Trucks is very proud to celebrate this important milestone and our success at the St. Thomas plant,” said John Merrifield, senior vice-president of sales & marketing. “We are extremely proud of these accomplishments and plan to continue to grow the company and the brand.”

To commemorate the event, Sterling unveiled a banner to highlight the achievement and showcased each of the vehicles produced at the plant — the A-Line, L-Line and Acterra models.

Meanwhile, not too far away in Chatham, Ont., International Truck and Engine Corporation’s 800,000th truck rolled off its assembly line. Jordan Feiger, vice president
and general manager of International’s Heavy Vehicle Center, presented the keys of the milestone vehicle, an International 9400i, to long-time International customer Al McCully, president of Chatham-based Preferred Transportation Limited.

International’s manufacturing history in Chatham dates back to 1922, when the Chatham Wagon Works began producing trucks for the company. In 1948, the Wagon Works was replaced by the current Chatham assembly plant, which has undergone several technological modernizations. In 1983, the plant began producing premium heavy trucks and is now the largest and most complete, exclusive heavy truck assembly plant in Canada.

It looked like the end of the Chatham plant earlier this year when parent company Navistar had planned to close the plant in July after failing to achieve concessions with the Canadian Auto Workers union. However, this past September the company and the federal and provincial government of Ontario reached a deal that would give the plant $65 million in aid, keeping the plant open.

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