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.