Western Truck Exchange: The Losanjealous Interview
If you’ve ever looked at a truck mudflap in Los Angeles, chances are good you’re already familiar with Mark, Wayne and Dan: The Western Truck Three. Conceived in the 1970s heyday of 2-D cartoons and family values, their timeless logo has been charming LA freeways for some thirty years now.
Just who are the men behind the drawings? Losanjealous recently posed a few questions to Wayne Holtzman, parts manager and perennial mudflap crowd favorite. His thoughts regarding the industry, the logo, t-shirt sales and Los Angeles, 1922, follow.
First off, let’s talk about the logo. Arguably you have the three most visible faces in Hollywood. Whose idea was it? Who drew it? Has anybody ever been recognized in person from the logo?
The logo was born during an ad campaign from the late 1970’s. In an attempt to build onto our growing Hispanic customer base in the used truck marketplace, we hired an advertising firm to develop 30 and 60 second television commercials to be aired on local Spanish stations. We were told that the Hispanic community is very family oriented, and that the best approach would be to monopolize on our three generations of family history. As none of the three of us were willing to perform in front of the cameras, we decided on cartoon characters for the commercial. Building on the success of the Manny, Moe, & Jack (Pep Boys) logo from the early 60’s, we created the Dan, Mark & Wayne logo that is still used today.
Who came up with the idea to brand the mudflaps on the trucks? Was it conceived in the era of Yosemite Sam and Busty Naughty Lady? (For the record, Busty Naughty Lady was my favorite growing up. But then, you guys didn’t really have a presence in north central Oklahoma . . .)
Every commercial ended with a still frame of our logo. So it was important to continue to promote this image within the community. What other market offers inexpensive moving billboards? As just another International truck dealership in the Southern California area, we could have opted to advertise our name on the traditional mud flap with the International logo. But, because we were unique and the only independently owned International dealership in town, we decided to break away from the franchise image and promote Western Truck Exchange as its own entity. As we began to take on new franchises, such as GMC and Mitsubishi-Fuso, this became more important.
Did you know at the time of creation that your logo would become an iconic image?
It’s hard to believe that our logo is anywhere near to an iconic image. But I have to admit that it is kind of cool when someone asks if I am one of the guys on the mud flaps.
So you have been recognized! Ok, getting down to it. What’s Wayne really like? And who is Mark? Who is Dan?
“I am the nice one”…
Dan is the General Manager, and manages both of our facilities (parts/service and truck sales). Mark is the Truck Sales Manager, and handles all aspects of the new & used truck department. I am the Parts Manager, and I oversee the operations of our parts department. Besides providing parts for our own service department, we currently are on contract with the City and County of Los Angeles to provide International, GMC, and Cummins parts to over 60 repair facilities. There is a fourth brother. (!!! – ed) His name is Bob. He joined the company after the logo was created and headed up our Insurance Division. He left the company and established his own successful insurance company (Western Truck Insurance Services), which specializes in the truck insurance market.
What did you think when Al Tru wanted to sell your shirt? (Your shirt is selling for $32!)
This was a total shock to us. We did not even know about them until they were in the market place. Dan’s daughter was the first to see one while walking down Melrose Avenue. She couldn’t believe it, but right there in the storefront of a trendy boutique were shirts with our logo on them. Soon we were bombarded with phone calls that the shirts were cited at Bloomingdales, and Urban Outfitters. I do believe that our family and friends probably bought more of these shirts than the general public. Apparently, Al-Tru had decided to produce a retro line of tee shirts, and included our logo among a few other well known Southern California logos.
From what I can tell, Urban Outfitters, Al Tru and Hot Topic are now completely sold out of your shirt. I purchased one of the shirts a few years ago from Urban Outfitters. You didn’t make any money off of that transaction?
Although we did hire a marketing representative who has arranged for licensing agreements (for shirts, mugs, lunch boxes, etc.) with a few companies, we do not receive any money from the sale of these products. It is exciting, however, when we spot our logo on tee shirts at high visibility venues, such as: a Best Buy commercial, OC television show, and a local rock band performance.
Respect. The part about the money seems off, but it could be argued that you’re gaining valuable brand exposure that you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Let us hope the logo continues to permeate the hipster market. I wouldn’t mind wearing, say, a Western Truck Exchange track jacket or a nice pair of sneaks. Regarding trucks. Do you have personal experience as a truck driver?
None of us has ever owned or operated a truck.
The company was founded in 1922. Can you talk about that a bit?
Our mother’s father (Edward Brown, deceased) established the company in 1922 as a used car lot. He gradually turned to used trucks, where his customers would exchange their old truck for a newer truck (thus Western Truck Exchange). Our father’s father (Abe Holtzman, deceased), father (Seymour Holtzman, deceased), and uncle (Aaron Fox) joined the business in the 1940’s. Dan, Wayne & Mark joined the company in the 1970’s.
What was being trucked around back in 1922?
Much as today. Almost all products in Southern California are shipped by truck.
Have you ever made public appearances together and been recognized as being the Western Truck three?
Outside of family gatherings â€¦ no.
Thanks for your time, Wayne!
Western Truck Exchange
Over 100 trucks for sale at any given time.