Neiss ready for next chapter

PHOTO BY CHRISTINA McCUNE |DGKN

Marla and Johnny Neiss show photos from the groundbreaking of Neiss Body and Equipment Corp. when Johnny was a young boy with his father in the 1950s.

PHOTO BY CHRISTINA McCUNE | DGKN

Johnny Neiss has assembled truck bodies to customers’ unique specifications for decades. He and his wife, Marla, have decided to retire and close the well-known business after 85 years.

PHOTOS BY KURT IMMLER | DGKN

Twisted Piston will move in to the iconic building that can be seen along U.S. 30 just outside of Dalton.

SUGAR CREEK TWP. Driving down the highway, John Neiss can spot immediately a truck body he manufactured. He doesn’t need to see the words “Neiss Body” on the mud flaps. His craftsmanship and that of his talented crew stand out to him.

John M. Neiss, who also is known as Johnny, doesn’t recall when he was part of the groundbreaking as a young boy at 17485 Old Lincoln Way with his father, John W. Neiss. The black and white photos of the father and son in 1956 have been beautifully framed to commemorate the special day. But for as long as he can remember, Johnny Neiss knew he was going to be involved in the family business.

After decades of pouring their time and heart into their business – and gaining many new friends along the way – Johnny and Marla Neiss have decided to begin a new chapter in their lives. They are retiring and closing the 85-year-old business. The iconic manufacturing facility measuring 88 feet wide and 220 feet long that motorists see from U.S. 30 will remain.

Last week, the couple had just a handful of truck bodies to finish manufacturing before Twisted Piston moves in. Johnny and Marla Neiss said they are happy fellow local business owner Jeremy Wenger – just a few doors down at 17279 E Old Lincoln Way — bought the building and they hope he enjoys as much luck in the facility as they have had.

The large structure is a perfect fit for the growing full service, diesel mechanic repair, maintenance and performance business.

“We’ll be moving in there so we have room to expand and grow,” said Wenger, who has been in business for about seven years. “It will help us a lot with the big Class 8 heavy duty work that we do.”

Filling a need

The elder John Neiss opened Neiss Garage in 1935 in West Lebanon. He built wooden wagons and the business quickly grew to fill a need. As technology and demand changed, the business began to specialize in the manufacturing of custom truck bodies.

In the late 1950s, just outside of Dalton, John and Mary Neiss built a large manufacturing facility for Neiss Body and Equipment Corp.

Read the complete story in the Oct. 28, 2020 edition.

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