Stories From Dad

How our fun logo was created in 1974!

We get a lot of compliments on our fun logo with the garbage truck in our name.  The Company was founded in 1970 out of my parents home in Fairfield, Iowa.  In 1972 a building was rented in Davenport, Iowa.  Our original logo was ELLIOTT EQUIPMENT CO. In block letters.  In 1974 a creative ad guy stopped in the office.  He met with my father and asked what the company sold.  Dad said “Garbage trucks”.  The guy spent about 10 minutes sitting in front of Dad’s desk drawing on paper and handed Dad the logo that is what we use today.  Dad said “I really like that, what do I owe you?”  The gentleman said $125.00!  Dad said you’ve only been here for 10 minutes.  And in 1974 mechanics made $3.25/ hour so $125 was a lot of money!  The gentleman said “You’re not paying me for 10 minutes, you’re paying for all of my years of training to do this.  Dad paid him.  True story!

The Street Sweeper that had many lives.

Dad sold a new 3 wheel mechanical sweeper to a large city.  After 7 years they traded it in for another new one.  A month later Dad had made repairs on the sweeper and sold it to a medium size town who needed a better sweeper than what they had.  After 5 years, that city traded it back in on a newer sweeper Dad had in stock.  Dad again had repairs done on the sweeper and sold it to a small town that had a very old, non-working sweeper.  After several years this town traded it in on a better sweeper and Dad then sold it for a fourth time to a small town that didn’t have a sweeper.  So I asked him, “did you get it back in trade from this small town to sell for a fifth time?”  He said, “no, they had a fire at their street shop and the sweeper burned up in the fire.  Or I might have sold it again!”  True story!

Will a garbage truck eat a car in 1979?

Dad was trying to sell a new garbage truck to a city.  At a city council meeting, the mayor said, “Glen, if your unit will chew up my brother’s old Volkswagen without the engine in it, we’ll buy your garbage truck.  Dad said that it could.  Dad was quoting them a high compaction machine.  Dad asked how are we going to get the car into the garbage truck.  The mayor said he would take care of that.  The mayor’s brother had the car on a forklift and loaded it into the hopper.  Well, the high compaction packer took the car in a couple of bites and it was inside the packer.  Dad sold the city a new garbage truck!  True Story!

Dad did cards tricks at a council meeting!  What?

Dad was working with a small town on a new garbage truck.  He had given them a quote for a new one and was told to come to the council meeting to talk about it.  Dad arrived early for the council meeting and a few council members were there sitting in the council chambers talking.  Dad joined them and as he sat there he saw a deck of cards.  Dad picked up the cards and said “I’m going to show you a card trick.”` He did the trick and the council members there were impressed.  As the other council member arrived, one of the council members said, “Glen, show them your card trick.”  And he did.  That was one of the easier sales he ever had!  True story!

Cold call at a City Council Meeting?

Dad was in business for a year or so and was traveling the week with Jim Tate, the Leach garbage truck sales representative.  They had been on the road all day and were driving through a city around 7:00pm in the evening.  The downtown area was dark except for the lights were on at City Hall.  Jim said to Dad, let’s stop in, they are obviously having a meeting.  Dad asked him if he was serious.  Jim said yes, why not.  So, in they walked and they got lots of strange looks because everyone knew they were from that city.  The meeting had just started and after a couple minutes the Mayor asked if they could help the gentlemen that had walked in with something.  Dad stood up and introduced himself and stated he had just started Elliott Equipment Co and that they sell garbage trucks and street sweepers and if the city had any need for these pieces of equipment.  The Mayor looked at him funny and said we call this meeting to talk about buying a garbage truck and that they didn’t know anything about them.  Dad said, “Boy did we educate them on garbage trucks”.  A few weeks later they order a garbage truck from Dad.

Late night delivery for the Elliott family

The business was started in Fairfield, Iowa and operated out of our home until 1972.  It was just my Mother & Father working for Elliott Equipment.  The City of Mediapolis and City of Keokuk, Iowa garbage trucks were completed and ready to pick up at Leach Company in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  Mediapolis was picking theirs up themselves and Dad was going to pick up and drive Keokuk’s back and deliver it to them.  Dad road up to Leach with the Mediapolis staff and they toured the factory when they got there.  After the tour Mediapolis left in their truck and Dad jumped in Keokuk’s truck and headed back west.  Part way back, Dad called my mother and said to pick him up at 10:00pm at Keokuk and to bring a bottle of whiskey.  I was 8 years old and Mom loaded me in the car and that evening we headed to Keokuk.  We got there around 10:00pm and picked Dad up.  It had been a long day and Dad slept most of the way back top Fairfield.  We got home in the wee hours of the morning.

Dad kept hauling companies in business! 

Several times, small haulers would come to Dad with a baby in his arms, desperate for equipment and say, “Glen, I need a truck, but I don’t have any money.” Dad would say, “well, if you promise to pay me back, we’ll finance it for you and get you a truck.” It was a risk Dad was willing to take to keep a customer in business. And over time it always worked out. He kept businesses in business and had a lifelong customer! There are still one or two of these companies around today. And, they haven’t forgotten what he did for them.