Rod Ehrlich, co-founder and chief technology officer of Wabash National, died recently at age 72.
“To know Rod was to love him,” said Brent Yeagy, president and chief executive officer. “Wabash National’s legacy is his legacy, and we are grateful for his friendship, mentorship and leadership. Our thoughts are with the Ehrlich family as they mourn the loss of a beloved husband, father and grandparent. We ask his colleagues in the industry to join us in respecting their family time to grieve and remember his legacy.”
Ehrlich spent the majority of his life shaping the trailer manufacturing industry. He “pursed superior performance through precision in engineering. He personified innovation for Wabash and consistently raised the bar in the industry, making a significant impact on trailer design and modern commercial transportation,’’ the company said in a press release.
In April 1985, Rod Ehrlich followed his brother, Jerry Ehrlich, to a new company Jerry founded called Wabash National, where Rod assumed the role of head of engineering. Over more than 30 years Rod Ehrlich helped author more than 60 patents at Wabash National that advanced the company and the industry, according to company executives.
Some of his innovations included the industry’s first thin-wall, sheet-and-post trailer; the aluminum plate trailer that replaced traditional fiberglass-reinforced-plastic models; and the DuraPlate line of composite plate trailers.
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“He also pioneered numerous proprietary product enhancements, some of which include vertical logistics for securing cargo; the EZ-7 modular seven-way that simplifies electrical connections and repair; the Trust-Lock door lock system that improves freight security and reduces door damage; upper ID brake lights that improve highway safety; and overhead door designs that maximize door opening height to improve freight loading and unloading operations.,’’ according to the company.
In 1997, Ehrlich was honored by Purdue University’s School of Engineering with an award as Alumnus of the Year for his contributions to the engineering profession. In March 2012, Wabash National opened Ehrlich Innovation Center in honor of Ehrlich and his innovations.