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Schulz moves into president’s role at Pierce

The Illinois native has been with the company for nearly two decades

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May 17, 2023

APPLETON – After getting his start at Pierce Manufacturing Inc., an Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE: OSK) company, more than 18 years ago, Bob Schulz was recently appointed its president.

As part of the overall vocational strategy, Schulz, who started in the role April 10, will have responsibility for Pierce, Airport Products (ARFF) and Frontline Communications brands.

“It’s been a whirlwind start and a humbling experience thus far,” Schulz said. “We have a fantastic team here, and I view the role as people leadership – ensuring our customers’ needs are met.”

Jim Johnson, who led Pierce since 2010, will remain the executive vice president of Oshkosh Corporation and president of the parent vocational segment.

Johnson is responsible for the overall operations of Pierce Manufacturing, MAXIMETAL, Oshkosh Airport Products, Frontline Communications, Kewaunee Fabrications, McNeilus refuse vehicles, Oshkosh S-Series front discharge mixers and IMT specialty vehicles. 

“Bob is a proven leader with a deep understanding of our Pierce, Airport Products and Frontline Communications businesses and our dealer network,” Johnson said. “We are excited and confident to have Bob’s strong leadership, customer relationships and drive for results steering these exceptional brands.” 

Climbing the ladder
Schulz joined Pierce in 2004 as a senior financial analyst and has held finance, order management and general management roles with increasing responsibility, including his prior roles as the senior director of finance for Oshkosh Airport Products and vice president and general manager of Pierce Aerials.

With almost 20 years working with the organization, Schulz said he has learned a lot of valuable information from Pierce’s past.

“Doug Ogilvie, the longest-tenured president at Pierce, always used to say, ‘Pierce is makers of the finest,’” he said. “That’s still true today – we have high-quality, dependable fire apparatus that serve communities across the world. It’s an absolute privilege to be a part of that.”

Schulz said there are several reasons why Pierce is “so great to work for,” but one reason sticks out.

“For me, the purpose we serve is big,” he said. “We serve first responders and the fire service, and the mission they serve is profound – the desire to protect and save property and life.”

// Manufacturing, headquartered in Appleton, manufactures customized fire and rescue apparatuses and is currently the largest fire apparatus company in the U.S. Photo Courtesy of Pierce Manufacturing

Schulz shared a story about an Oklahoma City firefighter he spoke with last year.  

“This particular firefighter had an accident where they fell through the second story of a building – the floor collapsed and he fell to the first floor,” he said. “He was laid up for more than a year, but he eventually got back to performing his duties. I told him how admirable that was, and he turned to me and said, ‘We can’t do what we do without the Pierce team and what they do.’ That will always stick with me – it was a profound statement.”

As Schulz said, the first month-plus on the job has been a whirlwind.

“I’ve done some traveling, but from my perspective, it’s gone well,” he said. “It’s been primarily focused on learning and listening – meeting with as many team members as possible, visiting all of our production sites and asking a lot of questions. We recently attended our largest trade show of the year in Indianapolis – the FDIC (Fire Department Instructors Conference). I talked to our dealers, suppliers and our sales representatives. This isn’t an original thought, but the answers to all our questions exist within our team. It just takes time and energy to arrive at the right strategy – and then to execute.”

Schulz also said, “he’s a believer in evolution, not revolution.”

“Incremental and steady improvements over time add up to big things,” he said. “There won’t be any sweeping changes.”

Schulz said he’s “very excited” about his new role, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few nerves to go along with that.

“If you don’t have some excitement and nerves, you’re probably not human,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to have several leadership roles in my career where I had strong mentors who provided the right experiences for me – and the right guidance when times were tough and challenging. How you manage the challenging times and work as a team will define how you come out on the other end.”
Moving forward
Schulz said growing Pierce is important, but it has to be done correctly.

“We have to maintain our traditional values,” he said. “We make quality products. Given the fact they are for life-serving businesses, we must make sure our standards remain high. We want to expand our leading position in the market and continue bringing innovative solutions that solve customer challenges. We also want to continue to partner with our industry partners, including our dealer network to make sure we serve our customers through the entire life cycle of our products.”

An Illinois native
Schulz, who currently resides in Waupaca, grew up in Illinois and is a University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign graduate with a Master of Business Administration from Marquette University.

// Manufacturing was founded in 1913 by Humphrey Pierce and his son Dudley. The first shop was converted from an old church located at Fremont and Jefferson streets in Appleton. Photo Courtesy of Pierce Manufacturing

“Growing up in Illinois means two things,” Schulz said. “One, I like the wrong sports teams and they don’t necessarily succeed. Two, sometimes I forget to use my turn signal when I drive.”

Schulz said his grandmother is originally from this area.

“My real connection is I met my wife in 1990 and we moved up here a little more than 20 years ago,” he said. “She’s the greatest wife in the world, and we have great kids.”

For more information on Pierce, visit

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