Top Executive At Paccar Plans To Retire

Charles Pigott, who guided Bellevue-based truck maker Paccar Inc. for more than 30 years, announced at the company's annual meeting yesterday that he will retire.

Pigott began his career at Paccar in 1956. He has been president since 1965 and chief executive officer since 1967. He will step down from those posts at the end of this year but will remain on the company's board.

"The time has come for new ideas and fresh energy," said Pigott, 67. He said he did not know who his successor would be.

Analyst Paul Latta of Ragen MacKenzie in Seattle said he was not concerned by the announcement. Latta cited Paccar's overall strength and the presence of a few longtime Paccar executives who could step forward to fill Pigott's slot.

"In general here, I don't think there's going to be a change in strategy," Latta said.

During his four decades at Paccar, Pigott saw the company's sales swell from $2.8 million to a record $4.6 billion in 1995. Shareholders last year received a record dividend of $4 a share.

As the third-largest heavy-duty-truck maker in the nation, Paccar saw its market share in the U.S. rise to 21 percent last year. It will increase again this year, despite a large drop in demand for heavy-duty trucks that began in the second half of 1995, predicted Mark Pigott, Paccar's vice chairman and Charles Pigott's son. "This year our plan is to double our sales in Class-7 (smaller delivery-sized) trucks," Mark Pigott said.

Industry analysts have predicted that total U.S. truck sales will be between 150,000 and 160,000 in 1996, down from 205,000 last year.

To combat the downturn, Paccar laid off 900 employees at its Renton and Tukwila plants this year and closed a plant in Ste. Therese, Quebec, where about 950 employees had been on strike since August.

The company also announced yesterday that it will open six more of its Grand Auto and Al's Auto Supply stores in Washington this year.