Asghar Ghandchi, father of Iran’s heavy trucks industry, dies at 91

Asghar Ghandchi was one of the first entrepreneurs that started to revolutionise Iran’s industrial sector by assembling and manufacturing big lorries, later Mack Trucks, that were built to suit the Iranian climate and bad roads in the 70s.

30 July 2019
ID : 22136
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Asghar Ghandchi, founder of Iran Kaveh, the first lorry manufacturer in Iran, has died at 91.

Ghandchi, also known as the father of Iran’s lorry-making industry, died on Monday aged 91 at a hospital in Tehran.

He founded Iran Kaveh Industrial Company in 1963. Ghandchi gained an exclusive agreement to be Mack Trucks’ distributor in Iran. He customized Mack trucks for Iran roads. The American truck is still operating in Iran.

The entrepreneur also helped renovate the Iranian Army’s lorries during the eight-year Iraq-Iraq War of 1980, to transport tanks to the forefronts.

With the motto “Iranian lorries on Iranian roads”, Iran Kaveh produced several thousand tuned-in Mack trucks in a country whose roads didn’t have the necessary quality for US-produced trucks.

Trucks were imported from 1963 through 1967. A Mack financed semi-knocked-down kit (SKD) plant went into operation in 1968, according to bigmacktrucks.com.

Although Mack Trucks’ participation ended in 1979 when the Shah of Iran was overthrown, the plant was able to continue production until 1983. Through 1978-1979, 7,152 Mack trucks were produced.

"Before the Islamic Revolution in 1979, 98 percent of the trucks sold to Iran were Macks," former Mack President John B. Curcio told the Bethlehem Globe Times on August 18th, 1987, it reported.

Curcio had been Mack's executive vice president of international operations at the time. “After their break-off of relations with the U.S., the (Mack) plant in Tehran - where we used to assemble knocked-down trucks - was eventually used by Volvo."

"When I ran Mack International, we averaged sales of 4,000 to 4,500 trucks per year in 1975-79 in Iran (7,000 units in 1975)," Curcio said. "At that time, Iran Drilling was one of our customers. I'm sure they've missed the strength, longevity and reliability of a Mack."

"We still have between 35,000 and 55,000 Mack trucks operating in Iran," he said.

During Curcio’s tenure as Mack’s executive vice president of international operations from 1977 to 1980, the company was the leading American exporter of heavy trucks.

When Iran closed its doors to American business in 1979, Mack reported a yearly loss of $60 million on truck assembly kits - the equivalent of 10 trucks per day.

After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the Industrial Development & Renovation Organization of Iran (IDRO Group) took control over the company.
It was later bought by the second biggest Iranian state car manufacturer SAIPA and is now operating under the name SAIPA Diesel and Iran Kaveh SAIPA, that started with production of Volvo lorries and now changed to Chinese ones such as auto haulers and flatbeds. 

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