Case Studies Mack Trucks
Mack Trucks Rolls into the Roanoke Valley
Cruising to Virginia
Dedicated to durability, reliability, and meeting the needs of its customers, Mack Trucks has provided purpose-built transportation solutions for more than a century. An iconic American brand and image, Mack made the decision to launch a new line of medium-duty trucks used for a variety of lighter duty applications, such as pickup and delivery, representing a truck model the company had not produced since 2002. Its all-new 2020 Mack MD series would require a minimum of a 200,000-square-foot production facility or a 10-plus acre, ready-to-build pad site with room for expansion.
Mack Trucks is part of the Volvo Group, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of trucks, buses, construction equipment, and marine and industrial engines, and a major Virginia employer through its 1.6-million-square-foot plant in Pulaski County—the largest manufacturer of Volvo tractor-trailer trucks in the world. The company had firsthand knowledge of Virginia’s business advantages, and quickly shortlisted the Commonwealth in its search for a new Mack site due to the transportation infrastructure, skilled workforce, and proximity to the Volvo Trucks plant and suppliers.
The Virginia Solution
Infrastructure in place
Top automotive companies choose to locate or expand in Virginia for its thriving automotive ecosystem, skilled workforce, innovative culture, outstanding logistical advantages, competitive cost of doing business, and top-ranked business climate. Virginia regularly has electricity rates well below the national average, effective tax rates for labor-intensive manufacturing ranked No. 2 (Location Matters study by the Tax Foundation), and a corporate income tax rate of 6% that has not increased since 1972, reinforcing the Commonwealth’s stable business climate.
The Volvo Trucks Pulaski County plant’s decades-long history of success ensured Mack’s confidence in the business-friendly environment and readily available and skilled manufacturing workforce in Virginia. The company’s suppliers were already delivering to the Volvo Trucks facility, so another site on the Interstate 81 corridor made sense. An additional site selection factor included close proximity to Mack’s corporate headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina. The search was on for a potential location in or near the New River Valley region’s already-established automotive cluster that would meet Mack’s size requirements and accommodate an aggressive timeline to launch the new product line.
A former printing plant in nearby Roanoke County was quickly identified and determined to be a viable option for the startup operation. Located along Interstate 81 just west of Roanoke and offering access to Interstates 64 and 77, the 134-acre property included a 280,000-square-foot existing facility with the ability to accommodate up to 1 million square feet. Other property amenities included 18- to 21-foot clear heights, 11 dock doors with two drive-in doors, a sprinkler system, and more than 400 parking spaces. Above all, the plant required few alterations and allowed room for future growth.
A Lasting Automotive Workforce
With a proven legacy in the automotive industry, the Roanoke Valley’s hub of global automotive companies demonstrates the region’s ability to provide the workforce and infrastructure necessary for Mack Trucks to thrive. The Roanoke region’s proximity to Virginia Tech and the renowned Virginia Tech Transportation Institute guarantees a pipeline of recent engineering graduates, and Virginia Western Community College’s (VWCC) advanced technology education programs provide skilled workers to serve the area’s growing automotive industry. VWCC offers an associate’s degree in Applied Science with a focus on Mechatronic Systems Engineering Technology, a cross-discipline that combines mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering to meet high-performance manufacturing industry standards. The community college also began offering expanded automotive service technician training in 2020.
Despite robust competition, the company was confident that the Roanoke Valley’s workforce was strong, reliable, and could quickly fill job openings to ramp up the new plant.
Mack Revs Up in Roanoke County
In January 2020, Mack Trucks announced a $13 million investment to establish its new medium-duty truck manufacturing operation in Roanoke County, just 45 miles from sister company Volvo Trucks, creating 250 jobs. As the first prototype-to-production automotive facility announced in Virginia, the new Mack MD Series truck is designed, engineered, and manufactured start to finish at the company’s Roanoke County location.
Mack was able to retrofit the plant quickly, and the new trucks started rolling off the line in September 2020—just nine months after the announcement. By the end of 2020, the company had hired 245 employees. The Roanoke County facility serves as Mack Trucks’ only medium-duty assembly plant in the country.
Virginia and Mack have a lot in common. The company and the Commonwealth strive to build business opportunities that benefit customers and partners for years to come, and a top-notch workforce, proud legacy of automotive manufacturing, and commitment to partnership made Virginia the natural choice for Mack Trucks.