Kenneth W. Self

Inducted 1994

Distinguished Service Citation Award 1975

Served the Freightliner Corporation for 32 years, beginning as shop foreman in 1947 and advancing to President in 1959.

Led the engineering team that designed the full-tilt cab in 1958, solving the industry’s problem of servicing inaccessible truck engines.

Kenneth Self revolutionized the trucking industry with a hands-on approach to management: he never asked anyone to do a job he wouldn’t do himself. Self began his automotive career as a mechanic with the Spokane Transit System, repairing buses in the city’s garage. He later joined Consolidated Freightways as a mechanic and advanced to general shop foreman. In 1947, when a representative of the newly formed Freightliner Corporation asked Self to manage the new factory, Self said “I’ll give it a shot.” His “shot” lasted 32 years and transformed Freightliner from a five-person operation in rented quarters into a national company with 6,000 employees and six plants.

Between 1948 and 1978 under Self’s leadership, Freightliner’s annual truck production increased to a peak of 14,344 units and sales of $517 million. A significant portion of the company’s success was attributable to revolutionary truck designs such as the 1947 Bubblenose, the 1953 Spacemaker, and the revolutionary full-tilt cab WF-8164 in 1958. Self put a part of himself into each of Freightliner’s new endeavors by rolling up his sleeves and becoming directly involved until the project was successfully completed.

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