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North Carolina’s ‘Coolest Thing’ produced in Rowan County is facing supply chain challenges



CLEVELAND, N.C. Local Charlotte News – A Charlotte-area manufacturing plant is celebrating after being recognized for producing “the coolest thing in North Carolina.” The title was awarded to the Daimler Truck Manufacturing Plant in Rowan County for producing the Western Star 49X truck.

The annual title for the “coolest thing” comes from the North Carolina Chamber. This year there were 68 nominees and more than 41,000 votes that helped determine the winner.

Outside the Daimler Truck Manufacturing plant in Cleveland, you’ll find three ready-made versions of the Western Star 49X Vocational Truck.

“It’s a significant amount of pride to know that you are contributing to the infrastructure of America because every product that anyone in the country gets is moved by truck,” said Plant Manager, Erik Johnson.

Right now there is a high demand for the vehicle, including a nearly yearlong wait for customers ordering the new model truck.

From the start of production at one end of the plant, to rolling off the line at the other, building the beast can be completed in less than a day.

“This truck started in production late last year, completely new platform, new truck, highly advance with electronics and collision avoidance,” said Johnson.

The vehicles are considered vocational trucks, meaning they can be made into any type of work vehicle.

“Maybe a concrete mixer, maybe a truck, maybe a snowplow,” said Johnson.

The customization doesn’t stop there. Customers have more than 22,000 cab colors to choose from.

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A team of about 1,900 employees at the plant ensures the jobs get done efficiently.

“It is 100% customizable, much more so than your personal car. Anything you want on the truck we can do it,” said Johnson.

The ongoing supply chain issues seen off the east and west coast, with container ships waiting to unload, are impacting production.

“There are components that we need to build trucks, stuck sitting on containers in the ocean that need to get to us via truck, but we can’t give them the truck because the parts are sitting on a container in the ocean so it’s a big vicious cycle we are in right now and there is also a lack of drivers,” said Johnson.

Once all the parts are found and a completed truck is pushed off the line, it is usually delivered or picked up by the customers in a matter of days.

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