Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How it all got started

How it all got started

As many of you know, I have a little side business (http://www.hesstrucks.net/) where I sell Hess Collectibles Toy Trucks. Over the years it has grown to the point that it becomes a 2nd full time job during the holiday season!

But, how did it all get started?

In the mid 1970s thru early 1980s I received a Hess Truck each year for Christmas. As a child, I was hard on my toys. It turns out that things like taking them into the sandbox and playing demolition derby are not good for Hess Trucks. Plus, the future Engineer in me, just had to take them all apart to see how they worked. Needless to say all of my original Hess Trucks are likely buried deep in the Staten Island, NY Landfill!

Fast forward to 1993

I was visiting my wife's family (now ex-wife) on Long Island for Christmas. My wife opens up a present which contains the 1993 Hess Patrol Car.  Little did I know that she had a collection of Hess Trucks dating back to 1978?

I got excited about her collection, so as soon as we got back home to West Virginia we pulled her boxes of Hess Trucks from the attic, and set out to put them on display. She was devastated to find that some of her trucks like the 1980 Training Van and the 1987 Hess Box Truck had badly yellowed from the heat of being stored in an attic.

1980 Hess Training Van

Since it was me who put her boxes in the attic when we moved into the house I felt responsible. So I set out to find replacements. For the next few years, each Christmas and Birthday I would give her either a Mint-in-Box replacement for one of her badly yellowed trucks, or and older model Hess Truck.

The first truck I gave her was the 1976 Hess Box Truck with Barrels. This remains my favorite Hess Truck, because it was the earliest model Hess Truck that I have distinct memories of playing with as a child. It is also the one that started my obsession with Hess Trucks. After getting that one, it became my goal to obtain a complete Hess collection!

1976 Hess Truck

I really wanted to find either a 1964 B-Mack Tanker, or the 1966 Hess Voyager Ship. I stumbled upon a large lot of Hess Trucks at an estate auction which included a 1964 B-Mack Tanker.  I ended up winning the entire lot for less than what I was willing to pay for the (1) 1964 Hess Truck. But now we had some duplicate Hess Trucks in our collection.

1964 Hess Truck - 1st in the Series

In 1996, we got our first Internet connection and the search for Hess Trucks became much easier. I was finding some good bargains and was buying more and more Hess Trucks knowing there are places I could quickly turn around and sell them for a profit.

In 1997, I was taking a class in HTML programming and decided to make my first website; a place where I could buy and sell Hess Trucks. I never dreamed that it would take off to become what it is today!

When the 1997 Hess Truck was released, I had dozens of eMails asking if I could get the current Hess Truck. Unfortunately, our nearest Hess Station was several hundred miles away.

Fortunately, my parents still lived in New York near plenty of Hess Stations, so during our Thanksgiving visit to New York, we drove from station to station buying Hess Trucks (2) at a time. At that time Hess limited the purchase quantity to (2) per customer. After a days work and about (10) different Hess Stations, our car was loaded up with Hess Trucks.

Even though I was selling them on my website for a little more than what they cost at the station, I quickly sold out. I would have to figure out a way to get more next year.

During the spring of 1998, I heard rumors about a miniature Hess Truck being released. I wasn’t planning on heading to New York for that, but asked my parents to pick me up some. How Many? They asked. As many as you can fit in your car, I responded.

I didn’t realize how small they were, and my parents really did try to fit as many as they could in their car. They probably would have if the 1998 Hess Mini didn’t sell out before the first day of release was complete.

Fortunately they were able to get quite a few before they sold out and the 1998 Hess Miniature Truck became one of the hottest Hess collectibles ever.
1998 Hess Miniature Truck
1st in the Hess Miniature Series

For the 1998 Christmas Season I had a bunch of pre-orders for the 1998 Hess Truck prior to the release date. After seeing how fast the 1998 Hess Mini sold out, I got worried about the trucks being sold out by the time we made our Thanksgiving visit. My parents volunteered again to do the running around from station to station on the release date.

This time, they bought even more than I could fit in the car in one trip. I would just have to pick the rest up on my next visit. It sure did take a lot of effort to meet the demands of all the Hess collectors out there, but I was having fun!

In 1999 I went through a separation and divorce. The divorce had nothing to do with Hess Trucks, but one of the hardest parts was splitting up our Hess Truck Collection!

After the divorce, I took a new job and moved from West Virginia to Spartanburg, SC. I quickly set out to rebuild my collection of older Hess Trucks that I lost in the divorce. My website was actually generating a little profit, so I was able to justify the money spent on my personal Hess Truck collection.

When I first moved down to Spartanburg, SC there were no Hess Stations here, so I still had to rely on my parents and the annual Thanksgiving visit to New York to pick up the trucks.

A great thing happened in 2002! A Hess Station opened up in Spartanburg, SC less than 5 miles from my house! This has made it so much easier for me get the trucks I need to meet the demands of my customers each year.

2002 Hess Truck and Airplane

While I still work a full time job as an Engineer and Project Manager for an Automotive parts supplier, my Hess Truck website side business becomes a 2nd full time job during the Holiday Season.

I got re-married in 2008 and I gave my new wife the title of "Vice President of Packaging Operations" (she helps me package up the trucks for shipment). Having a second set of hands to help package and ship the trucks has helped out a bunch. Especially since repeat customers and word of mouth causes my business to grow more and more each year!

Visit my Hess Truck website at:   http://www.hesstrucks.net/


MaggieGem said...

What a great side-business, my nephew is great for buying these for all the boys at Christmas. Shame he doesn't think the girls worthy ;-)

HemlockMan said...

Very cool. Good luck with the new year of Hess trucks business! Interesting how it all started. I know I must have had the first Hess truck because I my parents started buying them for me every Christmas starting when I was seven or so.

Hess Trucks said...

In the mid 1970s thru early 1980s I received a Hess Truck each year for ... ihesstrucks.blogspot.com