Jay Hesse, who was one of the leading citizens in Pender, Neb., died early last summer after battling cancer. The former owner, chairman, president and CEO of Blue Ox was always a big supporter of Pender and contributor to the community.
As reported by the Norfolk Daily News, his company remains family owned and is governed by a board of directors, with Ellen Kietzmann now serving as president and CEO. Mike Hesse is the chairman. Sandy Hesse, Jay’s wife, is secretary.
Kietzmann said she wants to continue Hesse’s desire to keep Pender as the basis of the company. It is where it was founded, grew and continues to supply the bulk of the work force.
She said the company has every intention to continue to expand within the community of Pender.
The company traces its start to 1926 when it began as Automatic Currying & Dipping Machine Co. The original business began on a farm northwest of Pender.
The original plant built items such as back scratchers for livestock, with a bucket on top of the scratchers to apply chemicals to keep insects, like grubs and flies, off cattle.
Rollie McQuistan, who started the company, changed the name to Automatic Equipment Manufacturing shortly after World War II. It was incorporated in 1968.
Over the decades, it has produced a range of mostly farm products, such as tractor cabs, mist blowers, hay handling equipment, batch mixers, bug sprayers, livestock trailers, pig movers, cattle oilers and dirt moving equipment.
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