In the early 1980s, Jerr-Dan product specialists were looking at solving a persistent problem. Metal on metal friction causes wear. And carriers had a metal bed sliding across a metal frame. When the wear became noticeable, the costly replacement of the bed or frame or both became necessary. The solution came in 1982 when Jerr-Dan received a patent for removable and replaceable wear pads. Metal on metal contact was now replaced with metal sliding across replaceable pads, extending the life of more expensive components. 

In that same year, Jerr-Dan began production of the first extruded-aluminum plank carrier. Though this is now industry standard, it was a game-changer in the early 80s.

Close on the heels of those milestones, in 1985 Jerr-Dan launched the Jerr-Lift, the original self-loader. The Jerr-Lift secured the towed vehicle with hydraulic arms around the tires. It was the first offering of its kind in the traditional wrecker/recovery market. The Jerr-Lift reduced hook-up time and lessened operator fatigue.

In 1987 Jerr-Dan introduced the HPL, their first foray into a slightly larger light duty wrecker. Before releasing the new product to the market, Jerr-Dan decided to have an in-house competition to name it. At the time, most Jerr-Dan product names followed a “wild west” theme, with models named Rustler, Wrangler, and so on. (If you are old enough to remember the “urban cowboy” craze of the early 80s, you may understand this better. If not, just imagine a time when New York City accountants, bankers, and lawyers wore Stetsons on their heads and Tony Lamas on their feet. It was a different time.) But all the obvious cowboy-themed names had been used or weren’t available. However, a genius employee submitted perhaps the greatest product name of all time—HPL. That is, the “High Plains Lifter.”

The HPL line is still in production.

To see how we closed out the 20th century, be sure to check out Part 4 of this series.