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Morgan Olson is an American aluminum vehicle company that is the leading producer of aluminum walk-in vans. It was founded in 1946 on Long Island, New York, by Jimmy Olson, and is currently located in Sturgis, Michigan. Previously owned by Northrop Grumman, followed by a group of senior managers, Morgan Olson was purchased by the American company JBPCO in 2003.
Morgan Olson's leading competitor is Utilimaster Corporation.
The idea for the first aluminum walk-in van was originated by Walter Heingartner, owner of Kinney Motors Chevrolet in Brooklyn, NY. Heingartner was friends with Jimmy Olson, then Commissioner of the New York State Liquor Authority. Olson had no truck experience, but knowing there were ten independent laundry companies in Brooklyn alone, he saw a market. He knew an aluminum body would be lighter and less prone to corrosion. He also knew someone who could build it, "Jake" Swirbul, one of Grumman's founders. Grumman had no experience building commercial truck bodies. However, they decided to move forward with the concept and Grumman Aircraft Engineering was scheduled to produce the vehicle beginning in 1939. The concept was shelved due to the onset of World War II.
After the war, Olson and three partners formulated J.B.E. Olson Corporation on Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn.
The company grew and prospered over the next many decades. The company purchased the Sturgis, MI facility, its current headquarters, in 1963.
In 1984, Grumman Olson was awarded the largest contract in its history. The United States Postal Service (USPS) awarded Grumman Olson a contract worth over one billion dollars. Over 150,000 vehicles were produced, of which the majority are in operation today.
After changes in ownership in the 1990s, Grumman Olson was faced with a declining market, and eventually declared bankruptcy in 2001. The company was purchased by JBPCO, a parent company whose sales are nearly one billion annually, in 2003. At that time the name of the company was changed to Morgan Olson. Since the acquisition of Morgan Olson by JBPCO, it has seen steady, profitable growth while placing a heavy emphasis on reinvesting back into improved manufacturing equipment and processes.
Today, Morgan Olson produces walk-in vans, dry freight box truck vans, and cargo van upfittings.
Morgan Olson is located in the southern Michigan town of Sturgis; also in the eastern Tennessee town of Loudon.