He was a World War II U.S. Army veteran. After the war he went home to Kansas City, Mo., where he founded Arrow Truck Sales. With 18 locations, Arrow is now one of the nation’s largest dealerships for used Class 7 and 8 trucks.
In 1950, Nerman and the late Melvin Spitcaufsky created a small truck lot in Kansas City intending to sell used trucks. Their first trucks were eight vehicles purchased from the Missouri Corps of Engineers. Those trucks wouldn’t even fire up and, as the story goes, the men had to roll them down a hill to start them.
The $8,000 investment, however, turned into a lucrative deal and the two men realized they might be on to something. Arrow Truck Sales Inc. was launched. The Volvo Group bought half of the ownership of Arrow Truck Sales in 1998 and acquired the rest of the company in 2001. Nerman continued to be active until he announced his retirement in February of 2010. Nerman also founded Truck Center of America, which provides pre-owned vehicles to customers. Based in Leawood, Kan., TCA remains a family-operated business.
In the Kansas City metro, Nerman, wife Margaret and their son Lewis are known as being among the Midwest’s most prominent collectors of contemporary art.
The Nermans have also provided financial support for the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts in Kansas City, and the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Mo.