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Originally published Saturday, June 12, 2010 at 10:00 PM

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Shifting gears during Great Recession

This Bellevue truck manufacturer has been rolling along for more than a century, and in recent decades has been one of the region's most...

Founded: 1905, as Seattle Car Manufacturing Co.

Headquarters: Bellevue

Major operations: Manufacturing plants in Renton, Ohio, Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma; also in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom

CEO: Mark Pigott

Employees: 15,200

Major products/services: Light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks under the Kenworth, Peterbilt and DAF brands; financial services and information technology; truck parts

Average annual shareholder return, 2000-09: 19.3 percent

This Bellevue truck manufacturer has been rolling along for more than a century, and in recent decades has been one of the region's most consistent outperformers. Though the worldwide economic downturn has created some rocky patches for Paccar, the company has vowed to power through them.

Paccar and the Pigott family, who've run it and its predecessors for most of the past 105 years, take pride in the company's long-term performance: Paccar has turned a net profit for 71 consecutive years, and has 25 percent of the U.S. and Canadian market for heavy-duty trucks.

J.B. Groh, an analyst who follows Paccar for D.A. Davidson, calls it a conservatively run company with very little debt on the manufacturing side and an intense focus on quality.

"They don't really want to say they're the 'Mercedes of trucks,' but it is a very high-quality product," Groh said.

Over the past decade, Paccar has plowed $3.8 billion into capital projects, new products and research and development.

The company also has showered goodies on shareholders: regularly increasing quarterly dividends, near-annual special dividends, share buybacks and stock splits. Four splits between 2002 and 2007 turned 100 Paccar shares into 506.25.

But last year, the party came to at least a temporary halt. Deliveries of new trucks plunged from 125,900 in 2008 to 61,000. Paccar closed its Peterbilt plant in Nashville, stopped nearly all production at its Kenworth plant in Renton, and cut a total of 3,500 jobs.

The company sees some signs of improvement this year, despite a generally flat truck market in North America and Europe. It delivered 16,500 new trucks in the first quarter, up from 14,600 in the same period last year; revenue grew by 12.3 percent, and profit more than doubled to $68.3 million.

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