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Lehigh Valley-made Mack Trucks buttress Ukrainian forces, U.S. military

Phil Gianficaro
Mack Defense, a subsidiary of Mack Trucks, provides the world's finest vehicles to the US military and allied militaries worldwide.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — The war in Ukraine rages on, two years now but for what feels like longer.

Russia continues its unprovoked and unjustified invasion of a sovereign nation and its people willing to fight to the death before relinquishing its land.

More than 31,000 Ukrainian troops and more than 30,000 civilians have been killed.

David continues his valiant fight against Goliath. But he will need significantly more than a slingshot.

"We're all about providing the best for soldiers."
David C. Hartzell, president and CEO, Mack Defense

The Biden administration and Congress have directed about $75 billion in assistance to Ukraine, which includes humanitarian, financial and military support.

And a great deal of that military support comes from the Lehigh Valley.

“Ukraine was in dire need of heavy transport vehicles to move heavy equipment,” David C. Hartzell, chief executive officer of Mack Defense, said during an event showcasing its specialty military vehicles on Wednesday at Mack Trucks headquarters.

“We bid and secured a contract with the Department of Defense. They needed them immediately. We delivered what they needed inside of 12 months.

Hartzell podium.jpg
Phil Gianficaro
David C. Hartzell, Sr., president and CEO of Mack Defense in Allentown, proudly discusses the state-of-the-art military vehicles the company provides for US personnel.

“The Army talks to us a lot about supply chain and how we can be sure the [Department of Defense] gets what it needs. We’re all about providing the best for soldiers.”

Founded in 2012, Mack Defense LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mack Trucks Inc.

'It reminds you of home'

Wednesday’s event, held in conjunction with the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, was an inside look into the leading Lehigh Valley manufacturer of tactical, logistical, commercial and specialty military vehicles.

The vehicles Mack Defense manufactures and provides not only to the U.S. military, but other countries worldwide — Canada and Poland among them — run the gamut.

The vehicles are all types, sizes and performances, from payload and missile transports, hydraulic lifts, heavy duty dump trucks, heavy and medium duty cabs and vehicles, oil and water tankers.

“It’s great to know a company right here is helping members of not only our military but other countries.”
Bill C. Siegfried, 70, a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War

Mack Defense also is on the cutting edge of large military vehicle development, with trucks that reduce fuel output.

Hartzell narrated a video presentation of Mack Defense vehicles to the luncheon attendees. As he spoke, several military veterans on hand nodded.

Veterans know what veterans need to defend freedom.

“It’s great to know a company right here is helping members of not only our military but other countries,” said Bill C. Siegfried, 70, a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War.

Asked the significance of a member of the U.S. military deployed to a fighting zone, thousands of miles from home, and seeing that iconic bulldog on the front of a Mack truck, Siegfried smiled.

“It reminds you of home,” he said. “It lets you know people back home are behind you.”

'Our military deserves the best'

Mack Defense employs more than 130 retired military veterans in positions ranging from program management, business controller, production technician and directors of purchasing and quality control.

Paul Day, a Mack Defense project manager, spent 20 years in the Navy. A graduate of U.S. Naval Academy, he was deployed to Iraq during the Gulf War.

“We like to hire veterans because the military ingrains a determination to pursue answers and acquire what’s essential,” he said.

Hartzell told a story about military members who fought in the Middle East being injured or killed from bombs while they were driving trucks.

“We’re all about saving lives.”
David C. Hartzell, chief executive officer of Mack Defense

Mack Defense answered the call from the Department of Defense by developing an armored truck cab that showed a high survivability rate.

“We’re all about saving lives,” Hartzell said.

Mack is not new to Hartzell. A Lehigh Valley native, he recalled as a child seeing the Mack bulldog logo at his kitchen table. His father worked for a different trucking company, but one that drove Mack trucks and distributed Mack jackets.

“Mack has been part of my family since I was a kid,” Hartzell said. “I know how dependable they’ve always been.

“Historically, if you’re someone who wants a truck that’s going to last, be durable, be reliable, you buy a Mack. Historically, that has been part of our brand’s image.

“We’ve carried that through to Mack Defense. It’s something that is our main goal, for our team to give the soldiers the best truck we can. Our military deserves the best.”