Gary Amoth can remember his first trip in a Kenworth truck. It was 1967 and he was accompanying his uncle as he drove a brand new Kenworth from the dealership in Spokane back to their home in Idaho.
Gary Amoth of Gary Amoth Trucking is driving the Kenworth T680 with 76-inch sleeper that is transporting the 2016 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree to Washington, D.C.
Nearly a half century later, Amoth has embarked on what he’s sure will be not just a memorable trip in a brand new Kenworth T680, but the haul of a lifetime. Instead of a load of building products or an overseas container his company’s trucks usually pull, he’s hauling an 80-foot Engelmann Spruce from the Payette National Forest. The tree will eventually be set up on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.
This trip, which began Nov. 6, will be the longest journey in his 33-year career as a truck driver and the owner of Twin Falls-based Gary Amoth Trucking, which operates a fleet of 125 trucks.
“This trip has been absolutely amazing,” Amoth said. “It’s wonderful watching all the people show up to catch a glimpse of the Capitol Christmas Tree through the trailer’s 15-foot long viewing window. Our truck with its bright red paint and beautiful graphics certainly gets lots of attention. I am proud to be hauling “The People’s Tree.”
Amoth said his company’s new Kenworth T680 features many things his uncle would have dreamed of having in his Kenworth – a comfortable 76-inch sleeper, fuel-efficient 485-hp PACCAR MX-13 engine, Eaton Fuller Advantage™ 10-speed automated transmission, and the new PACCAR Axle, the industry’s most efficient and lightest weight tandem drive axle. The truck, which utilizes Kenworth’s T680 Advantage configuration, also has new aerodynamic fairings now standard on the T680.
“So far, I have really enjoyed driving this Kenworth T680,” Amoth said. “The engine is quiet and with the automated transmission, my shoulder feels great at the end of the day. The Diamond VIT interior and the heated Ultraleather Kenworth GT702 driver seat make for a very comfortable driving environment, which helps me to stay focused. The forward lighting system is fantastic and the visibility through the panoramic windshield makes a big difference when you’re maneuvering and parking an 80-foot trailer.”
The tour truck first traveled north into the Panhandle, then turned south to Twin Falls and Idaho Falls before leaving the state on Nov. 15. So, Amoth will have plenty of opportunities to try out all of the driver amenities in the cab and sleeper, including a drawer style refrigerator/freezer, TV installation package, a passenger seat that can rotate 180 degrees, and a fold-out table.
When it came time to choose the Idaho-based carrier that would have the honor of hauling the Capitol Christmas Tree from Idaho, Kenworth Sales Co. recommended Gary Amoth Trucking due to Gary’s reputation in Idaho, the image of professionalism that he and his employees project, and the care they take with their trucks. Bruce Ward, president of Choose Outdoors, a non-profit organization that promotes outdoor activities on public lands and assists the U.S. Forest Service with coordinating the annual U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Tour, made the final choice.
Julie Pipal, president and CEO of the Idaho Trucking Association, said she believes Ward made the right call. “Every carrier I have talked to agrees he was a great choice. Gary is a well-respected member of his community and our industry. We couldn’t be more excited to have Gary representing the Idaho trucking community.”
Gary Amoth enjoys the driver comfort features of the Kenworth T680.
Amoth said he believes the choice of his company as the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree hauler has been a testament to his entire staff, and not just him. “When they offered us this opportunity, I gladly accepted on behalf of the company and our employees. It’s really been quite an honor for us all to be chosen to deliver this very important national symbol of unity,” Amoth said.
“Ever since that first trip I made with my uncle, I’ve always had a strong affinity for Kenworth. It’s why one of my first trucks after I started the trucking business hauling agricultural products in 1983 was a Kenworth. We’ve also gotten great after-the-sale support from Kenworth Sales Co. That’s another big reason why we buy Kenworth trucks,” he said.
“Providing our drivers with what I would want to drive has been a crucial part of our driver recruitment and retention strategy,” Amoth said. “We try very hard to take good care of our drivers. That’s why we almost always have them home on the weekends. And we provide them trucks that are a pleasure to drive.”
The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree tour will make 27 stops on its 4,000-mile trek to Washington, D.C. The PACCAR Customer Center, utilizing Kenworth TruckTech+ and PACCAR Solutions, will help monitor the health of the Kenworth T680 along the way. The Center is staffed 24/7 and has access to more than 370 Kenworth dealer locations across the United States and Canada in support of Kenworth customers, such as Gary Amoth Trucking.
To track the truck’s progress, visit Trackthetree.com. For more information, including a complete tour schedule, visit the 2016 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree website (www.capitolchristmastree.com), which is administrated and updated by Choose Outdoors.
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Kenworth Truck Company is the manufacturer of The World’s Best® heavy and medium duty trucks. Kenworth's Internet home page is at www.kenworth.com. Kenworth is a PACCAR company.