In late October, Mack Trucks, Inc. provided some encouragement for the construction industry. At an open house and reception for about 200 vocational truck customers from around the world, executives provided evidence that the economy is starting to recover.

Guests were first shown the revised operations of the Macungie Assembly Operations, near Allentown, Pa., where all Mack trucks are now built. The plant is operating a full shift. Visitors were directed to the changes in the assembly operation caused by the new 2010 emission requirements. Most notable was the recent renovation in the area in which the truck first started. The plant removed large vents for the engine exhaust. Thanks to the new engine technology designed to meet 2010 emission standards, idling engines no longer need special exhaust portals to keep workers safe from fumes.

Guests were then provided an update on Mack Trucks by key company spokesmen. Denny Slagle, Mack's president and CEO, provided sales figures that suggested business opportunities seemed to be rebounding. "We've just hired about 125 employees to start staffing up our production facility for what we see as stronger sales demands," said Slagle. "It's great to help put American workers back to work. And we are proud that we export product, not workers," Slagle told the crowd.

Kevin Flaherty, senior vice president for U.S. and Canada, provided more good news. "Our sales for the second quarter of 2010 are up about 40% from the same period in 2009," he said. He credits the rebound to the market acceptance of Mack's 2010 emission solution, and the company's commitment to capital development and innovation even in tough economic times. "We are building the best trucks we have ever built," said Flaherty.

Offering proof of this commitment, Dave McKenna, director of sales and marketing for Mack's Powertrain, updated the group on recent product announcements. Key to his presentation for producers was the update on the Clear Tech SCR emission control system. "Our solution is fully compliant to U.S. EPA 2010 emissions standards at 0.2g NOx, and is built off existing engine platforms," said McKenna. And McKenna said there was good news about the system. "Several customer fleets that are using the new engine report significant gains in fuel economy as compared to previous models," he said.

Following these presentations, visitors received a special tour of the new Mack Customer Center. "The Mack Customer Center is an important new tool for the company," said Mike Reardon, vice president of marketing. "It gives us a powerful way to immerse customers from North America and around the world in the products, history, and culture of the Mack brand."

The 159,000-square-foot facility was crafted from the company's former engineering development and test center on 65 acres in Allentown, Pa. The Mack Customer Center includes an 18,000-square-foot product showroom that's a short drive from Mack's production facility in Macungie, Pa. The site contains a two-lane, .73 mile oval track, allowing customers to put their vehicles to the test. The track has multiple grades, on- and off-road durability courses, and a skid pad.

The new facility also houses the Mack Museum and Heritage Center, which will open to the public beginning November 2010.