Mike Hesse, chairman of Pender, Neb.-based Blue Ox, announced that Ellen Kietzmann, CEO and president, is transitioning out of the company after a quarter century of service to the company. Kietzmann has agreed to remain, for a period of time, to assist with the transition and will hold the title of President Emeritus during that time.
According to a press release, Kietzmann has served in various capacities over her 25-year career in the RV Industry. At Blue Ox, she served as vice president of human resources and later became its vice president of sales. Upon the passing of Jay Hesse in 2014, Kietzmann was named CEO and president of Blue Ox. Kietzmann has also served the industry as an RV Hall of Fame board member from 2014-2017 and has served on various committees, including the Committee of Excellence, GORving, committee for trade shows & events, and the board of directors for the RV Industry Association (RVIA).
Hesse stated, “We are grateful for Ellen’s quarter century of service to our company and industry. Ellen provided steady, dedicated leadership after Jay Hesse’s passing and she will be missed. While the departure of any longtime employee can be difficult, we are confident that our new leadership structure will position Blue Ox for tremendous growth and the opportunity to provide our customers with even better products and service.”
Kietzmann noted, “These are exciting times for Blue Ox. Mike Hesse is a visionary and dynamic leader. While I’m grateful for my time at the company, it’s time for me to explore new opportunities and for a changing of the guard. I am confident in the foundation we have built and know that the sky is the limit for Blue Ox.”
Hesse, sole owner and chairman of Blue Ox/Automatic Equipment Mfg., will assume the role of CEO. He has served as chairman since 2014 and since his return to the family business Blue Ox/Automatic has doubled in size. Recent implementation of innovative marketing strategies, iIncreased efficiencies and marketability of the brand across their product offerings have been major points of emphasis.
As Blue Ox has pursued opportunities to expand and empower their upper management team, key members have taken on larger roles. Nathan Mueller was recently named director of finance and has become a key component in the profitability of the company moving forward. Ashley McQuistan, HR director, will see an expanded role in duties and responsibilities under the new leadership structure.
The Blue Ox sales team will see a shift in leadership as Alex Walker has been promoted to director of sales. He has quickly solidified himself as an expert in the towing arena. In an increased initiative to further establish themselves as an asset to their customers, Rick Kauer has been promoted and will drive product training at the dealer and consumer level.
In addition, significant investments have been made at the Blue Ox manufacturing facility located in Pender. Hesse, as the fourth generation to lead, is dedicated to staying true to the company’s rural roots.