As Jay Hesse, CEO and president of Blue Ox, battled the disease of cancer, he proactively prepared for the continued growth of the company.
According to a press release, key management and ownership changes have been made at Hesse’s request regarding the supplier’s strategic direction, including:
• Ellen Kietzmann will assume the role of CEO and president, and will be responsible for all day-to-day operations of Blue Ox. Her 20 years of experience with Blue Ox working side-by-side with Hesse and within the industry has made her “uniquely qualified to lead the company and to build on the legacy Hesse put in to place,” the company said.
• The new board consists of Kietzmann, Mike Hesse and Sandy Hesse.
“Everyone at Blue Ox looks forward to serving the needs of our customers and continuing the company’s growth with this leadership team in place,” the release stated.
Officials from RV supplier Blue Ox along with Iowa Speedway Track President Jimmy Small have announced a new multiyear partnership that designates the trackside general campgrounds and driver/owner motorcoach camping lots as the Blue Ox Campgrounds.
The two-tiered trackside campground overlooks turns 3 and 4 above the “Fastest Short Track on The Planet.” As part of the agreement, Blue Ox will be named the Official Towing Products Provider of Iowa Speedway. Blue Ox is the leading manufacturer of tow bars, baseplates, weight distributing hitches, gooseneck hitches and motorhome suspension products. The Blue Ox brand is familiar to many NASCAR team owners, fans and drivers who make race tracks their home for more than 30 event weekends a year.
“Blue Ox is pleased to partner with the Iowa Speedway,” noted Blue Ox President Jay Hesse. “We wanted to sponsor this track because of our fondness for the NASCAR fan base and because we see a lot of advantage in promoting our tow bars, weight distributing hitches, gooseneck hitches, etc. in this venue. Also it is the closest track to our factory in Pender, Neb., so it is easier for us to attend. We look forward to many years of working with the track to support our NASCAR friends”
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When the national recession almost drove Blue Ox’s recreational vehicle business over a cliff, the Northeast Nebraska manufacturer looked for ways to diversify. Last year, that road took the company to the U.S. military as it sought to adapt its technology and craftsmanship to military vehicles.
As reported by the Sioux City Journal, the small family business is known internationally for its line of towing products, such as hitches used to haul trailers behind RVs. But after the boom profit year of 2005, the company spent eight years trying to live up to its motto, “Strong As An Ox,” falling completely into the gutter in 2008, company President Jay Hesse said.
It appears Blue Ox turned the corner in 2013.
“It was an absolutely fantastic year, and this year even looks much stronger,” he said. “We’re looking for about a 15% increase in sales this year and more contingent growth on the bottom line.”
Blue Ox started developing tow bars for heavy-duty military vehicles such as Humvees and even tanks. The company, Hesse said, designed a modern product that is lighter and easier to use than the military’s current towing system, which dates to the 1940s.
Blue Ox’s defense-grade tow bars are capable of hauling more than 120,000 pounds, but light enough that a single soldier could quickly hook it up to a disabled vehicle. During combat, that could save lives and preserve valuable military assets.
To help navigate the competitive process of bidding for military and homeland security contracts, Blue Ox retained American Business Development Group, a defense consulting firm whose Arlington, Va., offices are near the Pentagon and National Guard Bureau Headquarters.
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Pender, Neb.-based Blue Ox announced the newest innovation to its SwayPro weight-distributing hitch. According to a press release, the BXW4019 Signature Series Rotating Latch is a new bolt-on latch designed to accommodate frames from 3 inches to 6 inches tall.
The Signature Series Latch can be bolted directly to or around the trailer frame. The new design augments the existing trailer frame – some of which have difficulty absorbing the forces of a weight distributing hitch – and prevents trailer sway when used in concert with the SwayPro’s spring steel bars and innovative hitch head. Rotating the latch stops the chains from swinging, preventing sway before it happens, the company said.
“With the addition of this new Signature Series latch, Blue Ox continues to evolve the design of the SwayPro, the finest weight distributing hitch on the market,” noted Blue Ox Vice President Raymond Padgett.
Blue Ox offers the SwayPro weight distribution hitch in six tongue weights: 350, 550, 750, 1,000, 1,500 and 2,000 pounds.
Republican Nebraska U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer recently toured Blue Ox’s manufacturing plant and headquarters in Pender. According to a press release, she was hosted by Blue Ox Executive Vice President Ellen Kietzmann and Vice President Raymond Padgett.
“We’re delighted to welcome Senator Fischer to Blue Ox,” noted Kietzmann. “Time after time, Sen. Fischer has demonstrated her commitment to supporting policies that further the growth and deployment of manufacturing in Nebraska. Her outstanding work in Washington, D.C., has been instrumental in furthering laws and policies that help foster the growth of manufacturing throughout the nation.”
While at the manufacturing plant, Sen. Fischer spoke with Blue Ox executives and employees and discussed the implementation of federal and state policies that will help spur the growth of the manufacturing jobs in Nebraska and throughout the U.S.
Headquartered in Pender, Blue Ox is a key supplier to the RV industry.
Blue Ox President Jay Hesse and Vice President Ellen Kietzmann announced Tuesday (Oct. 1) an alliance with Forest River Inc. to equip select V-Cross and XLR models with SwayPro built-in sway prevention systems as optional equipment.
According to a release, Brent Stevens, national sales manager of the V-Cross and XLR divisions, is premiering the SwayPro system as an optional feature on the new 2014 lineup. Additionally, SwayPro is offered free as part of a special limited promotion on the Vibe brand through March 1, 2014.
“Blue Ox is the best name in sway control. Our customers will appreciate Blue Ox’s intuitive, easy to hookup hitch system that prevents trailer sway before it starts for a smooth towing experience. Each SwayPro system is specifically engineered for the weight of the unit it ships with,” Stevens said.
Blue Ox’s SwayPro hitch offers built-in sway protection that prevents trailer sway before it starts, under heavy loads, high winds and rutted road conditions with the latest in weight distribution technology. SwayPro’s spring bars are made from spring steel and flex to provide optimal weight distribution and improved ground clearance, providing a softer, smoother ride. There are no pins or clips to lose and no adjustments are needed. The tow-ready system comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
Blue Ox, the leading manufacturer of towing products, has reintroduced the BrakeSafe, BRK4000, to its braking system line.
BrakeSafe is a supplemental braking system that allows for a smooth, proportional braking experience. It utilizes the motorhome’s air brakes to activate the brakes in the towed vehicle, reducing braking distances by an average of one-third.
The air cylinder is mounted discreetly close to the driver’s seat with a durable, black powder-coated bracket and a brake claw that easily attaches to a straight brake pedal arm.
It can be installed in less than an hour and, when not in use, can be removed in less than three minutes by disconnecting the brake claw from the pedal and the self-coiling hose from the towed vehicle.
BrakeSafe also requires no power draw from the towed vehicle’s battery; therefore there is no need to recharge it.
All units are equipped with ample DOT approved tubing for all applications, installation hardware and dust plugs to prevent road grime and moisture from potentially plugging the air disconnects. For more information, contact Blue Ox at (402) 385-3051 or visit www.blueox.com/p-1585-brakesafe.aspx for more information.
“Rollin’ On TV” announced the addition of Blue Ox as its newest advertising partner for the remainder of this year and into 2014.
“We look forward to working with Blue Ox in developing and producing a multimedia promotion package that includes both television and online advertising and promotions,” said Jose Moniz, executive director of “Rollin’ On TV,” in a press release.
Initial ads will begin airing the week of Sept. 29 with new ads being produced in November for the 2014 season.
“Rollin’ On TV,” now wrapping up its third year of production and syndication, has a total combined reach of 30 million homes on cable plus Direct TV and Dish Network.
Headquartered in Pender, Neb., Blue Ox is a longtime industry supplier of quality hitches, tow bars, steering and braking systems, and suspension products. For information on Blue Ox visit www.blueox.com. For information on ‘ROTV’ programming visit www.rollinontv.com
Industry supplier Blue Ox announced that Raymond Padgett has been named as vice president of marketing, effective Aug. 19.
According to a press release, Padgett has worked with Blue Ox in a variety of capacities for over 15 years. Prior to Blue Ox, Padgett worked for 12 years with Stag Parkway Inc. along with Keystone Automotive, where he helped the company expand into the RV market.
Padgett also holds board seats with the Recreation Vehicle Aftermarket Association (RVAA) and the RV/MH Hall of Fame.
The teams reporting directly to Padgett will include marketing and rally sales and service.
“I am looking forward to Raymond joining the executive team at Blue Ox,” said Jay Hesse, president of Pender, Neb.-based Blue Ox. “I’ve always had a deep respect for Raymond and I’m confident that he will be a strong presence in helping us grow our business in all the markets we serve.”
Pender, Neb.-based Blue Ox has developed a variety of double lugs that replace the standard triple lug on new or existing tow bars, allowing the tow bar to be connected to most aftermarket bumpers without any modifications.
According to a press release, these aftermarket bumpers cause problems for vehicle owners who want to dinghy tow their vehicles. “The baseplates that Blue Ox and other companies manufacture will not work on vehicles that have these aftermarket bumpers,” the release stated.
In other cases, where the connection points are not available as part of the aftermarket bumper, the purchase of a customer-designed Blue Ox baseplate that bolts to the vehicle frame will be needed to tow. Installation is usually less than 1 1/2 hours (depending on model) and requires standard tools.
Blue Ox’s towing equipment is constructed of durable steel and Finite Element Analysis tested. For more information visit http://blueox.com/p-1570-off-road-adapters.aspx.