Interview with Jerr-Dan® VP & General Manager Bob Nelson

This past month, I got the opportunity to talk with Jerr-Dan’s current Vice President & General Manager Bob Nelson. I met Bob earlier at the TRAA Legislative Workshop dinner that was sponsored by Jerr-Dan on March 10th twenty-four hours before COVID-19 flipped the whole world upside down.  Bob is no stranger to the Oshkosh family as he has been working under their umbrella, the Access segment specifically, for the last 22 years.  Prior to moving to Jerr-Dan, Bob was with the JLG Industries brand in several OEM sales management roles. JLG is the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of lift and access equipment. Bob is married, has three daughters and a son, enjoys golf and fishing and the outdoors with his family, and has a passion for his work!


Tow Professional (TP): Bob, I appreciate this opportunity to talk with you, especially in the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak.  This is a unique situation for you as a new vice president and general manager to tackle before you even get the pictures hung in your office and your boxes unpacked.  How are you and the management team at Jerr-Dan handling the current situation?

Bob Nelson: I am glad to be here today to talk with you, Darian; we appreciate the opportunity to share how Jerr-Dan is responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

Nelson, Bob, Bob Nelson, Jerr-Dan
Bob Nelson, VP & General Manager, Jerr-Dan

The first thing we did after arriving back from the TRAA Legislative Workshop, and after other members arrived back from the CONEXPO show, was to put a plan together to maintain operations and ensure that warranty and service is available for our existing owners. We are keeping a level of support to make sure our customers talk to a live person if they have any service needs. Team members also work remotely so that the supply chain is kept open for customers. We plan to have the entire team back in full force by the time the readers get this next issue.

TP: How are you currently working with your distributor network to help them meet the needs of their customers during this time?

Bob Nelson: We started a Dealer Advisory Council two weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic and related shutdowns.  We also implemented a parts and service program, “ABCs of Truck Care & Repair,” and worked directly with our distributors to help them promote their parts and service availability to their customers.  Additionally, we created a retail finance program to lower down payments and offer more flexibility to customers. The terms have been extended to include our distributors as well, so they can fill their floorplan and have units on hand for their customers.

TP: Bob, that certainly sounds like you and the Jerr-Dan team have taken the right steps to be able to keep the market moving.  The Dealer Advisory Council sounds interesting; tell me how it works if you will.

Bob Nelson: We meet weekly through a video conference call with a council that is made up of distributors from across the nation. This gives us an opportunity weekly to get a snapshot of what is happening at ground level with our distributors by hearing from them and sharing information across a variety of our locations nationwide.  (Jerr-Dan has over 65 distributor locations across North America).

TP: Jerr-Dan is close to 50 years old, and Oshkosh is more than 100 years old. What are your final thoughts looking forward into the market?

Bob Nelson: The companies both have been through tough times and have had to handle adversity. I am really looking forward to the challenges ahead for Jerr-Dan. My biggest concern is keeping 375 employees healthy and gainfully employed at a company that they enjoy working for. We are not here for the short term; we are here for the long term!  Our employees, distributors, and customers make up the Jerr-Dan family.  So, we will continue to work hard to meet our customers’ needs and exceed their expectations both during this COVID-19 crisis and well into the future.

TP: Thanks again, Bob, for your time and for giving us a glimpse inside the current operations at Jerr-Dan while you all are navigating through current challenges with the COVID-19 outbreak. Stay safe and be blessed!