LEGENDS OF THE ROAD: Greenstein
I don’t recall many, if any other companies that used such an effective brand awareness campaign. I’m writing about it 40 plus years later!
As a little kid growing up in the 1970’s – I became a freak for semi trucks. The 1970’s were the tail end of the golden era of American Trucking. The trucks of the day were the pinnacle of style - and there were lots of manufacturers building class 8 trucks at the time. That meant the highways were filled with dozens of different makes and models of semi trucks. Although I wasn’t able to recollect much of the business side of trucking (manufacturing - to operations) my passion was squarely on the trucks of the day. I couldn’t even imagine how the truckers could operate such huge trucks - and the truckers became my personal heroes.
I was fortunate to have grandparents that fueled my truck passions. One of the main ways to quell my semi passion was weekend visits to my local 76 Truck Stop in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. We had a simple formula: hit the restaurant for strawberry pie and ice cream – then I was off to the parking lot and fuel islands to behold the rows of semi trucks that were on break or being fueled up. I would soak in every detail of every truck I saw; from a driver’s name painted on a door; how big the fuel tanks were; to the type of CB antennas on the truck. There were so many glorious rigs that I would nearly float around all the trucks in a semi-spell. There were so many varieties of trucks and company names and logos that I kept mental files of nearly all of them. Most of those files I manifested into drawings in countless pages of spiral notebooks.
There are many trucking companies I recall, but one of my favorite companies stood out to me, and probably to every driver of the day, and that company was GREENSTEIN. My first impressions of the Greenstein trucks were the flashy green paint schemes, polished stainless steel refrigerated trailers, and GIANT block letters across the bumpers that read: G R E E N S T E I N. The trucks themselves were almost always a Peterbilt or Kenworth - cab overs models with double sleepers! In the early days of Greenstein, they mainly had Mack Trucks, but as the 70’s rolled on, Peterbilt and KW took the center stage (Mack never built a double bunk cab over). The double sleepers were mainly for team drivers, including husband and wife teams. They were definitely owner operator trucks. Gleaming chrome; dual air horns; twin stacks; and loaded with extra lights. I don’t think I ever saw a Greenstein rig that wasn’t spotlessly clean. I could tell right away that the drivers of the Greenstein rigs took great pride in their trucks.
I get the same feelings now writing about the memories of them - decades later.
As I got a little older I began to do more research into the trucking companies that I would see running up and down the East coast when I was on family trips in our motorhome. Greenstein was headquartered out of Pompano Beach, FL. They ran produce and citrus fruits. I discovered that most of their trucks were owner operator outfits that leased on to haul for Greenstein. Part of that lease was flying the huge G R E E N S T E I N block letters across the front bumpers – they were unmistakable. In fact, I don’t recall many, if any other companies that used such an effective brand awareness campaign. I’m writing about it 40 plus years later!
To me, each Greenstein truck was a flagship. No two trucks were ever the same; it was like a rolling beauty contest of chrome and steel between owner operators - an armada of the biggest and the baddest on the interstates. If you saw a Greenstein rig at speed or parked at a truck stop – they were always the coolest around, head turning rigs for sure. Every time I saw one of their trucks I got excited. I get the same feelings now writing about the memories of them - decades later. I think Brad and I will have to recreate a Greenstein truck for the Semi Freaks collection!
Shendal Greenstein needs to be in the woman’s entrepreneur hall of fame.
Greenstein was established on April 14th, 1961 in Pompano Beach. The company was owned and ran by a woman named Shendal Greenstein. She ran the company with incredibly high standards. I read years later that Shendal had an agreement worked out for her owner-operators with General Truck in Milwaukee for Kenworths and a Mack dealer in Illinois for Mack trucks. Considering that I’m from Milwaukee, and I would frequently visit those truck dealers, Greenstein just became a bit more near and dear. Moreover, Shendal Greenstein was the very essence of an independent woman. She built an empire in a male dominated industry – in the 1960’s! I was a fan of her my entire life without knowing anything about her, other than the incredible company she built from the ground up. Her eye for details shouted loudly for millions of miles. She and her fleet of owner operators kept a portion of America fed for decades, boosted the economy, and boosted the spirits and imagination of a little kid from Milwaukee – to this very day. Shendal Greenstein needs to be in the woman’s entrepreneur hall of fame.
About the Author: ROBB MARIANI