Daimler Trucks Has Deep Roots, History of Innovation in Oregon

Published Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Daimler Trucks North America is one of Oregon’s largest and oldest manufacturing employers, with 2,900 employees in the state. As the North American headquarters for Daimler Truck, the Portland office oversees operations with 21,000 total employees.

Daimler has owned the Portland truck-maker since 1981, but the company’s roots in Portland trace to the 1930s when it was launched by Leland James as Consolidated Freightways. After a short time of being based in Salt Lake City, the company returned to Portland in the 1940s as Freightliner Corporation.

As the U.S. economy grew and the interstate system sprouted, Freightliner grew rapidly from an annual production of 116 vehicles in 1950 to 6,206 in 1970. The growth continued under Daimler’s ownership, helped by acquisitions and expansions. Today, Daimler Trucks is North America’s leading commercial vehicle maker, with manufacturing facilities in Oregon, South Carolina, North Carolina, Michigan and Mexico.

Daimler Trucks’ geographic footprint has grown, but its roots in Portland remain deep. It is active in community affairs. To many, it’s best known as a sponsor of the Portland Trail Blazers, Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns, as well as local college teams. Daimler also is a supporter of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education programs and the Oregon Food Bank and matches employee contributions of up to $500 annually to a variety of causes.

In the past three years, the company has made three significant investments in Oregon that should ensure that it remains here for years to come.

  • In 2016, Daimler Trucks North America opened a new $150 million headquarters building on its Swan Island campus.
  • In 2017, the company completed an expansion and update of its test track in Madras. The facility, which Daimler Trucks invested about $19 million in, will help the company develop future technologies for commercial vehicles.
  • In June of this year, Daimler announced plans to open a research center in Portland dedicated to automated trucks and school buses.

Together, these investments not only strengthen Daimler Trucks’ commitment to Oregon, but also ensure that Oregon will be an innovation center for the global company. The desirable research and headquarters jobs created by Daimler’s investments also help attract talent to Portland, create business for suppliers and boost the state’s economy.

As is the case with many innovation-driven companies, attracting talent is a key concern for Daimler Trucks. The company is ramping up its engineering teams for automated driving, e-mobility and connectivity – all competitive employment fields.