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TowTimes.com - Open Letter to the Towing and Recovery Industry from Bob Nelson, Jerr-Dan


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In 2022, Jerr-Dan is celebrating its 50th year in business. While preparing for this milestone anniversary, we paused to take a look back at the long and winding road that has brought us to where we are today.

As the single brand leader in the towing and recovery industry, it is not often that we stop to look in the rear-view mirror. We generally operate with an eye on the road in front of us.

Today, that road looks a bit daunting.

With inflation rates at a four-decade high, widespread supply chain disruptions, a tight labor market, logistics challenges, increasing fuel and insurance costs and the threat of increasing interest rates, it’s difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. A major chassis shortage further complicates the situation.

Truck OEMs are unable to deliver the chassis needed to meet the demand of tow equipment manufacturers and have moved to “allocating” available inventory in 2022. They anticipate that supply will fall short of demand through 2023 and perhaps into early 2024.

These shortages limit Jerr-Dan’s manufacturing volumes. And we are not alone. Competitive manufacturers are equally experiencing these market conditions and unfortunately, there is no quick fix on the horizon.

That said, and as difficult as it may be to see today, every business challenge presents an opportunity for improvement.

First and foremost, Jerr-Dan remains focused on building trucks to satisfy customer demand. To do so we are working diligently and getting creative to secure the parts and chassis needed to build product.

To keep driving our business, your business and the industry forward, we have allocated resources to three key areas: proactive customer communications, product development and operator training.

In terms of communication, we are being transparent with customers so that they can work through fleet planning and make business decisions with the most up-to-date information. A customer is the first to know if a part or chassis is delayed which will impact their delivery.

The Jerr-Dan product specialist and engineering teams are heavily focused on working to develop products from customer feedback. This rich level of customer input is helping us define our future products.

And finally, we strongly support operator training. One tower is killed in the line of duty every six days. This is an unacceptable statistic we take to heart at Jerr-Dan. We are upgrading our training facilities, capabilities, and programs to get more operators trained to change this statistic going forward.

As an industry, we need to pull together during these tough times. We can’t bury our heads and ignore inflation. We must practice pricing discipline to remain healthy. That means as costs increase, pricing must be adjusted and/or surcharges instituted to keep businesses healthy and tow trucks in service.

In today’s marketplace, if you aren’t changing, you are dying. Gone are the days, at least for now, when customers can arrive at a trade show with the expectation of buying a tow truck. Those on display are in most instances already sold. Customers who want to minimize business disruptions should embrace fleet planning, forecast purchases, and secure financing well in advance.

While this is our 50th year in business, we haven’t seen anything like this in our first 50 years. As always, we are committed to our customers and to doing what we can to mitigate cost impacts. This is how we have led the way since 1972 and how we will remain a market leader for the next 50 years.

Keep driving forward,

Bob Nelson, General Manager, Jerr-Dan


Jerr-Dan Encourages Increased Emphasis on Training

Editor’s Note: To further address Jerr-Dan’s support of operator training, Tow Times requested additional information regarding the company’s approach to this topic. The following was supplied by Jerr-Dan:

Jerr-Dan, an Oshkosh Corporation company (NYSE: OSK), continues to affirm its dedication to the improvement of operator safety not only through product innovation, but also by raising awareness industry-wide of the importance of well-designed and executed operator training programs. Regardless of the brand name towing and recovery equipment may wear, high-quality training will make operators of that equipment safer.

If everyone in the industry does their part, there is little doubt that more operators will safely return home to their families each year. Jerr-Dan, for its part, is in the process of upgrading its operator training facility and curriculum. Jerr-Dan’s training programs are created by operators, for operators. Each class focuses on the fundamentals of equipment operation, service recommendations and hands-on training among many other related topics.

Jerr-Dan will continue its practice of controlling class size to maximize the opportunity for productive interactions between students and instructors, as well as hands-on “remote time.” Jerr-Dan engineers are always in attendance to support the product specialists leading each class.

“We all agree that no effort should be spared when it comes to operator safety,” said Bob Nelson. “And we really believe that improving training improves safety.”

View the full article and more on TowTimes.com

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Very well put, Mr. Nelson, we need as a industry to not only upgrade our equipment but our personnel. Safety should be priority one and training a close second.


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