It was apparently in the cards for Denny Nelson to work for Hoosier Crane. He says he was hired as a service technician shortly after meeting Tom Schmidt in a Texas hold’em tournament at Tom’s house. He says he knew Hoosier Crane’s Adam Short and that connection was his ace in the hole. He became employee no. 9 back in 2006 and he will celebrate his 13th year with the company in August. His first eight years were spent working out of the Elkhart office.
“Then I met a girl. I kind of liked her and I asked her to marry me. She lived in Fort Wayne,” said Nelson.
He said he managed a long-distance relationship with her for a while, but he eventually got a chance to move to Fort Wayne when Hoosier Crane opened a branch there.
“We started the Fort Wayne branch because of Denny,” said Vice President of Sales Jon Harkrider. “We had been covering Fort Wayne out of Elkhart and we saw this as a chance to open a branch. Denny handled it on his own at first, including some sales. It was our first branch.”
Nelson has been in Fort Wayne about five years now and the branch has grown to three people. That girl he asked to marry him is his wife Leona. They have a two-year-old daughter, Amelia.
“I like Fort Wayne as long as we’re living outside the city area. I just enjoy outdoor activities like hunting and camping,” he said.
Nelson grew up in Elkhart and graduated from Memorial High School. In 2000 and 2001 he attended Vincennes University in Indianapolis and studied aviation maintenance. He says the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on America changed his career path. The airline industry had some tough times.
“I was offered a job at Dulles airport in Virginia, but I didn’t want to move there.”
Nelson worked at some machine shops around Elkhart and also worked as a forklift technician for Morrison Industrial in South Bend before landing the job at Hoosier Crane. It has been a pretty good deal for everyone.