Mack marks 100 years of hauling on Canadian roads

Back in 1921, Canada was a growing nation with a growing infrastructure network and plenty of demand for raw materials, consumer goods and all of the other things that help a country develop. Those needs drew the attention of a truck manufacturer south of the border, and with the opening of a Toronto office Mack Trucks joined the drive to build Canada.

That relationship has continued ever since, and as Mack marks 100 years of serving the Canadian truck market the company says it is prepared to continue in its efforts to meet the needs of Canada’s trucking industry with new models, technology and innovation moving forward.

Surplus “Bulldog” trucks make impact in Canada

After World War I, the Mack AC “Bulldog” trucks that served Western militaries so effectively in Europe spread into private operation throughout North America, including the rugged Canadian wilderness. Reliable and well suited for heavy-haul operations in challenging regions, these trucks were ideal for Canadian operations, and the manufacturer took notice. In 1921, Mack Trucks of Canada started operation in a small Toronto office, delivering Mack AB and AC models.

One of the first customers for the trucks was Dufferin Construction, and as the Mack brand expanded into new models, new technology and new areas, Dufferin stayed with them – it continues to be a Mack customer today, a century later.

A 1921 Mack AC – the truck that first made an impact in Canada.

Changing Canadian landscape keeps Mack nimble

According to Steve Jugovic, Mack regional vice president for Canada, that strong relationship comes from Mack’s ability to meet the needs of a Canadian landscape that is always changing.

“What we really do is take a look at specific Canadian features, whether it’s cold weather packaging, whether it’s moose bumpers, whether it’s tow hooks,” Jugovic described. “We understand, equally from a service perspective, ice roads and things of that nature that are unique to us. We are similar, but also slightly different [to the United States] as it relates to our product offerings… with our nimbleness and our ability to adapt to the unique customer challenges and unique geography, whatever the case may be, we do it well.”

Jonathan Randall, Mack senior vice president of sales and commercial operations, said that Canada truly provides a test for trucks – and that Mack takes advantage of that to improve its products.

“The Canadian terrain tests our products, maybe in ways that a lot of the terrain in the U.S. doesn’t. We’re fairly well known for reliability and durability; that comes into play very heavily in the Canadian market, whether you’re talking about ice roads, oil fields in northern regions, whatever it might be where we find ourselves operating, and our dealer network being able to support and service our customers in that way,” Randall said. “To that point, we’re able to take what we learn in Canada, our ability to operate and succeed there, and bring that down to the U.S., so that the products we’re building are able to manage those different things – whatever the climate, the terrain or the operators may throw at us.”

Market demand strong but supply issues remain

While Mack, like many manufacturers, is still negotiating challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has seen a continued demand for its vehicles, Randall noted.

“The demand from our customers for our product hasn’t lessened – in fact, it continues to grow and grow strong in the U.S. and Canada, not only this year, but well into next year,” Randall said.

Supply line issues that have affected many automotive manufacturers recently are also making an impact on Mack, but the company is continuing to move product as much as possible, Randall noted.

“We’re navigating the seas of some supply uncertainty that creates some challenges with us in our operations, yet we’re still able to get a lot of trucks out there. Our dealers have some inventory that they’re moving to the customers. We find that, if we could get them more, they would take more,” he said.

In Canada, the long-haul market is leading the way thanks to the Mack Anthem, which is driving growth in that sector, Randall said. Regional haul and day cab sales are also showing strength, while vocational sales are remaining steady overall. The broad spectrum of areas that Mack serves provide a benefit for the company and its customers, Jugovic said.

“We’ve done a lot of work packaging transactions working with our dealers and customers. It’s really about bringing value to them. We know that customers’ needs have adapted… the full service model is one example of a product we offer, and really allows us to provide consultative selling to a customer so they can focus on their niche,” he explained.

A Mack mixer working on the construction of Montreal’s Olympic Stadium in 1976.

New technologies draw Canadian attention

As trucking moves into new areas including electrification and autonomy, Mack is hearing from its Canadian customers that those developments are of interest here. Electric vehicles are especially of interest, and as a member of the Volvo Group, Mack is moving ahead with electrification as a target for the future.

Mack launched the LR Electric vocational truck in 2021, and recently added an Ultra Service package that combines all of the necessary services to run an electric truck, including charging, maintenance and other needs.

“It’s exciting to see how that takes in the market – the reception so far where we’ve been running the LRE has been very positive,” Randall noted.

Canadian buyers are showing interest in electrification as well, Jugovic said.

“We have a lot of activity, whether it’s in the public sector, private sector or customers we sell traditional engines to who are open for the conversation,” he noted. “We’ve had meetings, literally daily – we had one yesterday with a city in Ontario that has expressed great interest. This is where the future’s going – we have a product that is operating well, is very well received and well perceived.”

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(“Mack marks 100 years of hauling on Canadian roads” was used on 1/6/22 from