September '15

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rv-pro.com September 2015 • RV PRo • 63 troubling decade for the agricultural industry, as many small family farms across the country failed as demand for their crops declined. Hesse's solution to keep the company viable was to branch out into other markets. Enter KarTote, a tow dolly Auto- matic designed for recreational and commercial use. In the 1990s, that idea was followed by the purchase of a pair of tow bar makers, one called Blue Ox Towing Systems. Broadening Towing Product Lines By 1997, Kietzmann says manage- ment combined both product lines and put them together to create the offerings dealers know today as Blue Ox. While Automatic is still the parent company's name, the colorful moniker now applies to everything the company makes at its plant in the small town of Pender. One key step to expanding the RV line was going beyond products for motorhomes by tar- geting the towable crowd. "In 2005, we introduced Sway Pro, our weight-distributing hitch, and we've expanded that line throughout the years and it has really grown significantly. It's also allowed us the opportunity to go ahead and make new customers," she says. "When they get to the time in their lives where they want to invest in a motorhome, they also know who Blue Ox is." Above: Associate Vince Valenzuela welds a component for a Blue Ox baseplate. Associate Duane Kreikemeier and Keitzmann inspect a welding project.

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