Most watch the Super Bowl for the game or funny commercials, but when Sean and Susan Johnson turn on the Big Game on Sunday evening, it will be to see a piece of home.
The couple owns and operates Calico Trailers, based in Quitman, which will have one of its trailers featured in a one-minute Chevrolet commercial, titled “Romance,” during the biggest of football games.
Sean, the company’s president, said he was initially contacted by a producer two months ago about the possibility of one of the trailers being featured in the commercial.
“[The producer] said he really liked our trailers and wanted to use one in the Chevy commercial,” he said.
The producer happened upon the trailer at one of Calico’s dealers in Seguin, Texas. Sean and the producer then talked back-and-forth over the next two months about the production of the commercial. However, the Johnsons were initially unaware the commercial would end up airing during the Super Bowl.
“I really didn’t think it would come to anything, and the next thing he calls me back to let me know it’s going to be a Super Bowl commercial,” Sean said.
The Johnsons first viewed the finished production, which has been released on Chevy’s YouTube page, Thursday.
“We were elated,” Sean said. “My Facebook page and the Calico Facebook page have been going off all day.”
Word spread quickly throughout the small community of Quitman, as well. Susan, the company’s chief financial officer and certified public accountant, said she was showered with compliments at a basketball game Thursday night.
“I posted [the commercial] on Facebook about 30 minutes before I went, and every person that I came across — whether it was a person I speak with daily or not — said ‘I love your commercial, that’s great for Quitman,’” she said.
Personally, the recognition is especially meaningful to Susan, whose parents began the company in 1983.
“They ran it when it started as just a little-bitty business with a little-bitty shop and one welder,” she said. “It’s turned into quite a business for our whole family.”
The family-oriented company came from humble beginnings, but has blossomed into a finely-tuned operation.
With the help of about 65 workers, the company is able to produce between 35 and 55 trailers per week. From the beginning process to the final touches, Sean said one trailer can be produced in nine to 11 hours.
The company has not moved away from its family roots either. Sean said multiple family members, from both sides, are still employed at the shop.
Behind the hard-work of Dell and Barbara Liles, the company struggled through the early years and competition from multiple trailer companies in town. Now, more than 30 years later, all that remains is Calico Trailers, and a business footprint that extends to much of the continental United States, Canada and overseas.
When the commercial does air Sunday evening, for most, it will just be another of the multi-million dollar ads put together for the biggest football game of the year. But for the town of Quitman, it will be a moment of pride, happiness, joy and honor.
“We’ll be waiting for the commercial,” Susan said with a smile. “We’ll have to rewind it, watch it again, rewind, watch it again.”
(Staff writer Lee Hogan can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1246. Follow Lee Hogan on Twitter at twitter.com/LCD_LeeHogan.)