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Wis. company buys Jerr-Dan for $80 million

June 10, 2004|by RICHARD BELISLE

GREENCASTLE, PA.

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

Oshkosh Truck Corp., a Wisconsin truck and truck body manufacturer, is buying Jerr-Dan Corp. from an affiliate of Littlejohn & Co. for $80 million, an Oshkosh spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Jerr-Dan, based south of Greencastle, produces vehicle towing and recovery equipment. The company had sales of more than $100 million last year.

An Oshkosh spokeswoman said the company hopes to see expansion of Jerr-Dan as a result of the acquisition, but would not predict how much.

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Jeff Weller, president and chief executive officer at Jerr-Dan, said Wednesday the sale will be good for the company, its employees and the area.

"One condition of the sale is that the management team will stay here," he said.

Jerr-Dan has been getting its foot in the door with military contracts, and Oshkosh can help to move that end of the business forward, Weller said.

Jerr-Dan has three facilities, including the main plant at 1080 Hykes Road, another on Molly Pitcher Highway and a small warehouse and assembly facility in Las Vegas to serve its West Coast customers, he said.

The company has about 300 employees, with all but a handful working in the Greencastle facilities, Weller said.

L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Authority, said, "Jerr-Dan is a profitable operation and an industry leader with a good work force. This should be an opportunity for the company to grow.

"It's an excellent fit for Oshkosh, Jerr-Dan and Franklin County."

Jerry Pool, a Greencastle Borough Council member, and a partner, Dan Reynolds, started Jerr-Dan as a small job shop in 1972 in a 6,000-square-foot building outside Greencastle.

In 1973, Pool and a group of investors bought the rollback business from Grove Worldwide and moved it to a 20,000-square-foot building south of Greencastle where the company still operates, he said.

Pool, who no longer has a proprietary interest in Jerr-Dan, still works for the company. He said the sale to Oshkosh "is a good move."

Oshkosh spokeswoman Kirsten Skyba said Wednesday the company makes specialty bodies for trucks such as cement mixers, refuse trucks and fire trucks. The corporation has been diversifying by buying related companies such as Jerr-Dan whose management understands the industry, she said.

Skyba said she could not predict the effect the sale would have on Jerr-Dan's business and employment.

"We hope we can grow that business," she said. "Every business we have acquired has grown."

The sale papers will be signed in early July, she said.

Oshkosh officials said in a press release that the purchase of Jerr-Dan will strengthen the corporation's position and expand its product line and distribution network.

"Jerr-Dan fits well with the company's long-held strategy of growth through the acquisition of brands that are at or near the top in their market," the release said.

Robert G. Bohn, chairman, president and chief executive officer at Oshkosh, said in the press release that Jerr-Dan "is known for its quality, reliability and innovation and operates under a conservative management philosophy that meshes well with our own."

Littlejohn & Co. LLC, a private equity firm based in Greenwich, Conn., bought Jerr-Dan in 1999. Founded in 1996, the firm manages investment funds totaling $730 million.

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