Jerr-Dan Corporation is the single, largest nameplate manufacturer of towing and recovery equipment in the world. Barbara Kram reports on the company, celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2002.
In 1959, a farm equipment and hydraulic crane manufacturer was approached with a new idea for transporting farm equipment. The idea is known today as “rollback,” a technology in which the truck bed traverses steel rollers. In the 1950s and 60s, the company, Grove Manufacturing, introduced industrial carriers with the patented design, which permitted tow operators to stabilize the body at the rear for dock loading capability. This innovation has never been surpassed and is still in use today.
In 1972, Jerr-Dan Corporation acquired the rollbacks and farm equipment division from Grove, adding innovations in management and engineering that allowed them to develop new products and new markets. For example, the introduction of their Aluminum Wrangler in 1977, for installation on the traditional one-ton chassis, catapulted Jerr-Dan into a dominant position in the vehicle transportation industry.
In 1982, Jerr-Dan’s innovative design team introduced the Wrangler Lite, an extruded aluminum carrier that set a new standard in the industry. Also in the 1980s, they introduced wheel-lift to the rollback, which effectively doubled a tower’s load carrying ability.
A Towing Line
During this time period, many other markets began to open for carrier use. But none as significant as the towing segment. Because of automobile design changes, the car carrier was quickly becoming a more necessary part of a tower’s fleet. Recognizing the opportunity to serve all related industries, Jerr-Dan began to expand distribution geographically, building a network of the best independent distributors nationwide.
Realizing that a total product line was key to supply their industries, Jerr-Dan also launched an aggressive product development program.
In 1996, the company developed one of the first composite bodies in the industry. Using aerospace and automotive technologies, Jerr-Dan bonded composite materials to an aluminum structure, making medium- and heavy-duty wrecker bodies truly lightweight.
Their history has shown that innovation, perseverance and total commitment to the customer is the path to success. Today, Jerr-Dan is committed to providing the highest level of expertise and service in everything they do.
“We’re fortunate to have quality employees who work hard to make sure that all aspects of the Jerr-Dan operation are top notch,” said President Jeffrey Weller. “Our folks go out of their way to help the people who buy and use our equipment.”
The Jerr-Dan product lines of towing and recovery vehicles and carrier vehicles are built around the everyday needs of the professional tower. Jerr-Dan offers the durability and strength that towing vehicles require. In fact, Jerr-Dan has been outperforming, outworking and outlasting other brands of trucks for 30 years.
Their product lines are engineered and manufactured in facilities in Greencastle, Pa. Carrier and wrecker design and manufacturing have separate facilities for maximum efficiencies. The company continues to drive the industry with new and innovative products including a complete line of wreckers in all sizes.
An Elite Fleet
Reliability and versatility are the hallmarks of the Jerr-Dan fleet of towing and recovery and carrier vehicles for everything from small jobs to towing disabled tractor-trailers and buses.
When an emergency vehicle is in distress, public safety professionals call on Jerr-Dan. Towing a fire engine is a job for Jerr-Dan’s HDL 1100/530 with its 55-ton lifting capacity and the industry’s longest reach under lift. It features the power and capacity to master the most challenging towing and recovery job and transport the heaviest loads with confidence. Other features make the tow operator’s work safer and more efficient including a full tool array, lighted tool compartments with dedicated sockets, an automotive style electrical panel, remote transceiver for 360-degree operation, lighted dual side controls and remote control up to 500 feet.
Tow operators also do heavy lifting with the Jerr-Dan HDL 700/350. It tows a tractor trailer or bus with an effective underlift of over 10 feet.
Jerr-Dan also produces mid-sized wreckers, which are compact towing and recovery vehicles with high performance features to cut loading time. Two great examples are the popular MDL 280/110, a compact towing and recovery vehicle with a 14-ton trapezoidal boom; and the MDL 320/110, which is the 16-ton step up.
The Jerr-Dan carrier fleet is the equipment of choice of America’s emergency road service professionals. Their Steel Shark carrier offers a 10,000-pound deck capacity. Multi-car carriers include the Wrangler III, a sleek machine with a wide, aluminum top deck and steel main deck in lengths up to 30 foot. The HPL 35 & 60 are available in a steel or rust-free aluminum body. They can be equipped with hydraulic booms with capacities ranging from 4 to 12 tons. Other innovations include durable wheel lifts, deck mounted controls, and a driver’s side tool box, to name a few.
All carrier subframes incorporate extra-long, high-performance polymer slide pads. The flexible hose tracking system supports and protects the wiring harness and hydraulics during movement of the deck. The wheel lift towbar provides maximum height for difficult second vehicle applications.
Other carriers in the fleet include the rugged, stylish Steel Shark; Best in Class (BIC), a great, all-purpose worker; Steel Rustler, a stalwart, sturdy, time-tested carrier; Aluminum Vector, a classic aluminum carrier; and the Elite Aluminum with its shining strength and head-turning good looks.
An option on the carriers is an amazing new technology, Jerr-Dan’s patented ZOD(r) wheel-lift system. ZOD offers a zero-degree load angle and excellent clearance to help prevent costly damage to low-profile vehicles. Importantly, ZOD makes towing from upgrades or down slopes a cinch.
The range of applications for Jerr-Dan equipment is as great as the range of their product line-from tow vehicles with a capacity of 3,500 or 5000 pounds for standard road work, to towing and recovery or carrier vehicles for transportation of light or heavy equipment. For decades, Jerr-Dan’s innovation and reputation have given tow operators the confidence they need to do their vital work in contributing to public safety.