VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala.—What do landscapers, food truck owners and zombie apocalypse survivors have in common? They all look to U-Haul for a reliable for-sale truck to keep them in business.
Unless you don’t own a TV, like Hitch Professional Yoni Menaker at U-Haul Moving and Storage of Vestavia, you’ve probably heard of (or religiously watch) “The Walking Dead” (TWD). This TV drama follows a group of people trying to survive in a world where the undead seem to outnumber the living. Think soap opera “Dynasty” meets Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” minus the glamour, singing and dancing.
“To be honest, I don’t watch the show,” Menaker confessed. “I’d never heard of it. I guess it’s a very popular show.”
It may be hard for some TWD fans to understand, but there are people out there who don’t watch the show. However, every member of Team U-Haul watching Season 6, Episode 10, “The Next World,” probably noticed the addition of a very big star: a for-sale U-Haul truck. In fact, this role was filled by twin 17-foot trucks.
Several months ago, a member of TWD production crew contacted the Vestavia Team to purchase two identical for-sale U-Haul trucks to be featured in an episode of the show, shot in the neighboring state of Georgia.
You may not realize the amount of time and effort that went into choosing just the right trucks for this role. And, despite the stress of an open casting call, the Vestavia Team performed brilliantly.
“At the time, I had four or five 17-foot trucks trucks,” Menaker mentioned. “They wanted two identical trucks, but no two were the same. I mentioned that any small imperfections could be reproduced on the other truck to make them look identical.”
After much deliberation, test driving and evaluation of future camera placement, two lucky 17-foot trucks secured the role. Their part on the show was to assist the main characters in a supply run.
Though the EL trucks were destined for the role of a lifetime, the real star was Menaker.
“Yoni sells a bunch of trucks,” praised General Manager Peter Clifton. “From December to January, our store sold 36 of the 54 trucks in the marketing company.”
Menaker’s technique, like most award-winning actors, is to think about a character’s motivation.
“Whenever I’m with a customer, I try to understand their needs and what type of business they have,” Menaker explained. “I want to make sure I emphasize how the truck will help them meet their needs.
“I also make sure I let them know that our trucks are well-maintained and come with information on the truck’s service history,” he continued. “Buying a truck from another company or person might not yield that much information, which means they may end up having surprise repair costs right away.”
Best dramatic performance
You may be wondering if the former U-Haul trucks will be regularly featured on the show. Sadly, like many beloved characters on TWD, the supply truck met a tragic end.
“We were told what they planned to do with the trucks,” Clifton recalled, “but they made us pinky swear not to talk about or reveal what was going to happen to anyone.”
Whoa. Everyone knows that a pinky swear is an unbreakable bond … one that Team U-Haul takes very seriously. And so, the secret stayed safe until the episode was aired.
If you haven’t watched this episode yet, here is your spoiler alert. Don’t read past this point.
Those who have watched the episode know that in a very dramatic scene, a fight between other characters leaves the truck unattended, and it rolls into a nearby pond. The loss was deeply felt by two of the main characters, Rick and Daryl, who had formed a bond with the truck as well as the supplies loaded in the back.
We fully expect an Emmy nomination for outstanding guest actor in a drama series.
Click here to see a behind-the-scenes look featuring our for-sale U-Haul truck in action.
Have you ever purchased a former U-Haul truck before? How did it help you or your business? Let us know!
(Photos courtesy of the amc.com video “Making of Episode 610: The Walking Dead: The Next World.“)