When Bob Nadeau approached the Jerr-Dan booth at the 2019 American Towman Show, he knew something big was about to happen. Although he had been asking for a new car carrier for over a year, the owners of Team Auto Tech said he would have to wait. Yet there it was. Jerr-Dan’s first new multi-car carrier that rolled off the assembly line was waiting for him -- along with the countless people who helped make this moment possible.

Tough Road Ahead

When Nadeau’s son Joshua was just four years old, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. As a single father, Bob had to rearrange his life in order to take care of his son including quitting his job as a tow operator. After caring for his son full time for six years, Joshua passed away at the young age of 22. 

After losing his son, Nadeau knew he wanted to get back to working as a tow operator. He applied for a job with Syracuse, New York-based Team Auto Tech. However, since his operator skills were fairly rusty, he almost didn’t get the job. But husband and wife Ziggy and Michelle Keller, co-owners of Team Auto Tech, decided to give him a chance.

Working Behind the Scenes

Although Nadeau’s request for a new carrier was denied, he was unaware that Ziggy and Michelle -- 
along with Dave Gellinger from Worldwide Equipment and Mike VanAken from Jerr-Dan -- were all quietly working behind the scenes to create his one-of-a-kind multi-car carrier.

“Ziggy came to me and said he wanted to build a truck for one of his drivers,” said Gellinger, who serves as vice president of sales for Chicago-based Worldwide Equipment. “Ziggy and I started putting it together without the driver knowing anything about it.”

The chassis was shipped to Fontaine Modification Company in Garland, Texas, where countless alterations were made. Most significantly, the cab height was lowered by eight inches to allow for additional clearance for a lower upper deck to allow the carrier to haul taller vehicles on the upper deck. Gellinger said the modifications took over a year to complete in total.

The Right Vehicle for Every Job

This new multi-car carrier from Jerr-Dan was an ideal choice for Nadeau due to its versatility in the field. The carrier features multiple key slots combined with a wheel lift system that allows operators to transport three cars on the bed while towing an additional car in back.

“Our new 8.5-ton XLP multi-car carrier features a reduction of two inches from the top of the frame rail allowing for additional carrying height on the lower deck,” said Mike VanAken, director of product development, Jerr-Dan. “We were extremely pleased to be included and for the new Jerr-Dan multi-car carrier be part of such a special project and surprise.”

Other features of the carrier include a steel bed with removable aluminum side rails, making it easier to load and unload disabled vehicles. An efficient load/unload angle helps save time and avoids damage to low-profile vehicles. Upper-deck cut-outs and a three-rung step ladder allow for easy access to upper-deck hold-down straps, so loading the vehicle on the upper deck is easier and more efficient.

 

A Surprise Like No Other

After a year keeping the secret from Nadeau as well as most of the tight-knit towing community, the fully customized multi-car carrier was ready to be revealed at the 2019 American Towman Show, which was held December 6-8 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. However, the truck still required a few finishing touches that needed to be made on site. Hours before the show opened on Saturday, Gellinger and his crew added custom lettering to honor Nadeau’s son. As a lasting tribute to Joshua, the truck was numbered 6190 -- his birthday -- and the passenger door was emblazoned with Joshua's name, with the word "copilot" underneath.

With Nadeau’s dad in attendance, Team AutoTech, Worldwide Equipment and Jerr-Dan presented Bob with the keys to his new ride -- the first 8.5-ton XLP multi-car carrier manufactured by Jerr-Dan. Needless to say, it was an emotional occasion for everyone who worked behind the scenes to make this moment happen for Nadeau.

“There were a lot of tears and hugs,” Nadeau explained. “They took everything I was saying over the past year, stored it in their heads and then put it on the truck. They didn’t miss a beat.”

Towing, Showing and Sharing

Nadeau has always taken a lot of pride in his trucks and this new carrier is no exception. He enters his truck in about a dozen shows a year. Nadeau also participates in the Make-A-Wish truck convoys as well as Touch a Truck events that allow kids with autism and other special needs to explore big trucks, emergency, construction, agriculture and other one-of-a-kind vehicles.

Although the loss of his son will never go away, this new carrier keeps Bob moving, knowing he has a very special co-pilot by his side. “This is a one-of-a-kind vehicle and I appreciate the outstanding job everyone did to make this truck so amazing,” Bob said.