" Year after year, we’re driven to build the best trucks."

The History of Grumman Olson

  1946 — Jimmy Olson, Commissioner of the New York State Liquor Authority, and Walter Heingartner, owner of Kinney Motors Chevrolet in Brooklyn, N.Y., incorporated J.B.E. Olson Corporation in New York to sell aluminum-body trucks to the laundry industry. The truck, called the "Kargo King," is built for Olson by Grumman Aircraft Engineering, which produced fighter planes during World War II, with the chassis produced by Chevrolet.

  1946 — All the Chevy dealers on the East Coast are invited to the introduction of the Kargo King at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Salespeople write 450 orders for the truck that day.

  1948 — After only 300 units are built, production is transferred from the plant in Bethpage, N.Y., to an old lifeboat factory on the Hudson River in Athens, N.Y.

  1948 — The company becomes Aerobuilt Bodies, Inc., and sells the units to J.B.E. Olson Corporation.

  1948 — Jimmy Olson convinces Grumman, through his friend and one of Grumman’s founders, Jack Swirbul, to modify a Chevy Cab Chassis and develop the aluminum walk-in body, which is named the Kurbside.

  1955 — To meet competition in the truck body market, Grumman designs the Olsonette. A smaller truck, the Olsonette features many design innovations, including the "eyebrow" extrusion above the windshield, a Grumman trademark for years to come. Production of the truck does not begin, however.

  1958 — J.B.E. Olson founder Jimmy Olson dies. Wally Spielman purchases his stock in the company as well as Walter Heingartner’s, who returns to managing his dealership.

  1960 — Aerobuilt Bodies hires a new chief engineer, Harold Turner, and the Olsonette begins production. The Olsonette/Chevrolet chassis combination is sold to Philadelphia Newspapers.

  1962 — The best features of the Kurbside and the Olsonette are incorporated into a new unit, nicknamed the O.K., which becomes the Kurbvan. The truck is an immediate success. Aerobuilt becomes a Grumman subsidiary, Grumman Allied Industries.

  1963 — Grumman Allied buys identical plants in Sherman, Texas, and Sturgis, Mich., from the Glaspar Boat Company. These two additional locations help expand the market by relieving the high cost of transporting finished units.

  1965 — A smaller version of the Olsonette, with better vision and a Kurbside-style front, is designed. Called the Kurbside Junior, it is sold to UPS and the New York City Ambulance Service.

  1966 — Grumman teams up with UPS to develop the now familiar UPS P-600 and P-800 truck bodies, featuring lift-up fiberglass hoods and translucent fiberglass roofs.

  1968 — The Kurbmaster is developed and introduced to meet customer demands for easier engine access and servicing. Grumman Allied purchases J.B.E. Olson Corporation. The three plants then operate as Olson Bodies, while the sales organization operates as J.B.E. Olson.

  1969 — Grumman Bodies buys 47 acres near Tulare, Calif., and builds a 70,000-square-foot production plant. Olson Bodies begins development of the Grumman Motor Home. Production is moved to Sturgis in 1971 where a small, 17-passenger bus is developed and added to the current line of products.

  1972 — The Montgomery, Pa., facility is opened to produce modular buildings and motor homes. Slumping sales of both lead to the introduction of truck production at the facility.

  1973 — Engineering is transferred from Athens to the expanded Sturgis location.

  1974 — Grumman Allied opens a facility in Mayfield, Pa., to build UPS truck bodies.

  1979 — A major paint shop addition is built at the Sturgis facility.

  1981 — Grumman Allied closes the Athens plant due to a sluggish U.S. economy.

  1982 — The Sturgis facility produces a record 583 units in one month while reaching a yearly production total of 6,000.

  1985 — Grumman Olson headquarters is moved from Melville, N.Y., to Sturgis.

  1986 — Fewer sales in the South and Southwest force the closing of the Sherman facility. Grumman Olson’s United States Postal Service Long Life Vehicle prototype wins the government’s durability contest, and Grumman Olson wins the initial $1.1 billion contract. Grumman Allied dedicates its Montgomery facility to LLV production as a separate operation. LLV production continues until 1995, with more than 150,000 produced.

  1989 — Grumman Olson introduces the Freight StarTM Dry Freight Van, expanding its product offering.

  1994 — Northrop purchases Grumman Corporation.

  1995 — The Mayfield plant is phased out, while the Montgomery facility rejoins the Olson division of Grumman Allied after the completion of the Postal Service LLV contract. A major capital investment upgrades facilities, equipment and processes in the Sturgis, Montgomery, and Tulare facilities.

  1997 — Grumman Olson management acquire the company through a buy out and continue the philosophy of the previous owners.

  1999 — Acquisition of Complete Refrigerated Truck Bodies, Inc. of Alvaton, Georgia allows Grumman Olson to add refrigerated truck bodies to their product line.