50 YEARS OF INNOVATION, Part 5
The previous quarter-century had seen a lot of improvements in the company and its products. The arrival of the 21st century only accelerated this trend.
In 2001, Jerr-Dan received a patent for a unique tow-locking mechanism. It was common practice to use hydraulics to secure the tow arms when they closed around tires. Jerr-Dan engineers were all too aware that hydraulics could be compromised by a loss of fluid or pressure. They solved the problem by adding a mechanical lock. They would still use hydraulics to move the arms into position, but the mechanical lock would continue to secure the tire even if the hydraulics failed at some point during the tow.
Then, in 2002, Jerr-Dan received another patent, this time for an independent wheel-lift. This wheel-lift was made independent of the wrecker-boom by using the knee-boom, so named due to its resemblance to a bent knee.
However, 2004 would prove to be the most pivotal year of the new century for Jerr-Dan. That was the year it was acquired by the Oshkosh Corporation.
The new owner had the size, resources, and strategic direction that would permit Jerr-Dan to accomplish more, faster. Today, Oshkosh Corporation employs nearly 15,000 team members worldwide, and its products are found in more than 150 countries. Jerr-Dan had joined a family of brands that today includes other top-tier brands, such as JLG®, Pierce®, Oshkosh® Defense, McNeilus®, IMT®, Frontline™, Oshkosh® Airport Products, London™, and Pratt Miller.
At this point, there was really only one piece of equipment that the Jerr-Dan product range lacked—a rotator. But the company had been working with customers behind the scenes to get their input on building the “ultimate rotator.” For several years Jerr-Dan had interviewed owners and operators and relied on their suggestions to continually improve a new rotator design. Many mentioned a desire to reach more and get into position more easily. And it was no surprise to learn that almost everyone was concerned about improving stability.
Jerr-Dan took all these suggestions to heart, and in 2005 introduced the Jerr-Dan Rotator. This product debuted with a conservative 60ton rating but when applied to real-life situations ended up as the Jerr-Dan 70/85ton, heavy duty rotator. Backed by Jerr-Dan engineering and performance, users were able to reach further and position their boom more easily because of the new machine’s 42-foot working radius, at a time when the nearest competitor only offered 34 feet. What set the unit apart was its industry-leading stability, achieved through the widest dual scissor-style outrigger system of its time coupled with the strongest rotator frame in the industry.
In 2008 Jerr-Dan received another important patent. This patent was for the SRS, or “Side Recovery System.” The company had been looking at ways to improve its recovery capabilities, and the SRS certainly helped them reach that goal. The concept is simple—the boom would easily rotate to the left or right to enable recovery on either side of the tow vehicle. This new product was available as an option on new trucks, or as an aftermarket add-on for older trucks. Unlike most of the patented products that preceded it, Jerr-Dan made the SRS available to their dealers to be fitted to competitors’ trucks.
Jerr-Dan closed out the first decade of the 21st century with another addition to its carrier line. The new XLP (extra-low profile) carriers addressed the continuing need to lower the height of beds. This new line of carriers was also designed to be mounted without having to modify the truck itself, a feature that dealers especially appreciated. Over the next ten years, these XLP features were extended to all carrier sizes in the product range.
And in 2011, Jerr-Dan kicked off the second decade of the century with a major step forward. To improve efficiency Jerr-Dan moved all its manufacturing to facilities in McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania.
And what have the last 11 years been like? Be sure to read Part 6 of our story to be brought up to date.