I am often asked, “Why did you name your company ‘My Little Salesman’?”
In fact, I grew up with that question. When I was a child, I spent a lot of time with my dad either at his office or on the road, and people from all over used to ask if I was the “Little Salesman.” Endearing as that would have been, I’m not the company’s namesake. In truth, the real story behind the name is far more interesting.
Where It All Began
The year was 1958. It was the heyday of salesmen, those kings of the open road who traveled far and wide to visit their customers and close the “big deals,” relying on their extensive product knowledge, charm and drive. Salesmen were admired, respected—a man could go from rags to riches simply through the sweat he poured into his territory and the passion he had for his product.
It was a very different time, one when truck or equipment salesmen worked 9–5 and didn’t have cell phones or email—in fact, they often didn’t even have their own phones in their offices. Although they were frequently on the road, communication was limited, as they relied chiefly on pay phones and were only able to see customers in person maybe once a month.
The buyers also had limited options. If you wanted to buy a log truck, a tank trailer or a dozer, you had to visit every local dealer, and then maybe the regional ones. If the regional dealers still didn’t have what you wanted, you bought the regional newspapers or even the coastal newspapers (from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, or Seattle in the West).
You had to call and have the newspaper sent to you—several days after it was actually printed. Then you called the seller, and if it seemed he had what you wanted, you got into a car or possibly on a flight to go view it in person. The entire process was costly, inefficient and behind even the technology of that era.
Both my dad and my uncle Cliff were a part of this industry. They were in the logging business, and they knew hands-on the struggles of keeping a logging operation going up in the mountains, far from the rest of civilization. They saw firsthand the time and money that were wasted when a machine malfunctioned. If a skidder was down or the log trucks couldn’t run, the entire operation stopped. Additionally, looking for the right replacement equipment meant days wasted and money lost.
Something needed to change.
Birth of a [Little] Salesman
In 1958, my uncle, Cliff Womack, came to my dad with the idea to create a classified ad publication. It would showcase trucks, trailers and heavy equipment all in one magazine, and would be mailed to every trucker, logger or construction operation in the Pacific Northwest. This little publication would have greater industry coverage than anything produced before.
Uncle Cliff and my dad realized they had hit on something unique and timely. Their idea addressed the limitations of the 9-5 salesman, who could only get a few minutes with a client in any given month. It also catered to the customer, who needed reliable information on his own time—when he had the time to do his research, not when we was earning money running his road-building operation or driving his truck. The customer needed it on his break, with him at lunch, on the job site or at home in the evening. He needed the “salesman” to visit him when he was ready.
They designed the My Little Salesman catalog to be the size to fit in a gentleman’s sport coat or the pocket of a pair of dungarees. It was to be mailed monthly and formatted so that, unlike newspapers, it would hold up on a job site or in the cab of a truck.
What’s in a Name?
The name came from the idea that a dealer or manufacturer knew his sales team was limited in the time they could spend with any one customer, and that his team would not always be available when the customer needed them.
The idea was that this little catalog would be the dealer’s salesperson when his live salesperson could not be with the customer. Where his sales team was limited by time or distance, “My Little Salesman” could be with customers anytime, anywhere.
It was a bit campy, but the goal was convenience for the buyer and more effective reach for the seller. It is clear to me today, looking at the industry we are a part of, that this name is still as effective and relevant now as it was in 1958.
Sixty Years Later
Technology has changed. Today’s equipment or truck salesperson has a cell phone and can call, text and email from almost anywhere on the globe, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But today’s equipment or truck buyer is under more pressure and faces greater competition than ever before, often working around the clock to deliver freight or build a road or a building. This means a buyer still needs information at his, or in today’s world, her, convenience, not just when a salesperson is available.
Although our magazine is no longer digest size, the service we provide and the name we carry are still just as pertinent. Our print magazine is often kept by buyers for months, or even years, as reference to consult when buying (not so for our newspaper competitors). The carefully curated advertisements in the magazine are regarded as some of the most trusted in the industry, due to our thorough screening and policy of excluding advertisers with any record of bad practices in the industry.
A Trailblazing Tradition
My Little Salesman became a pioneer in the industry when we launched the catalog in 1958, and we continued that tradition of innovation when we became one of the very first online marketplaces in 1996 with the creation of MyLittleSalesman.com
. As with any website, this Little Salesman is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, from anywhere in the world and on any mobile device or computer a buyer uses.
Our website is intuitive and easily searchable, and contains the inventory from an even greater selection of manufacturers, dealers and individuals than our magazines. MyLittleSalesman.com
has been designed with the customer in mind: its comprehensive inventory and ease of use make it the premier site in the industry for those looking to acquire trucks, trailers and heavy equipment.
A Legacy of Trust
And just like in 1958, we are proud of the name My Little Salesman. Our goal has always been to improve the process, speed the result and keep both seller and buyer focused on what makes them money and gets their job done.
So today I ask, in the words of my dad and Uncle Cliff in 1958: Trust us to be your little salesman, operating on smart phones or delivered in the mail, bringing your inventory to the buyers when they need it, how they need it. Call on us when your sales team is not available; refer to us as “My Little Salesman.” We are proud when you do.