In the year that the iconic camouflage company Realtree is celebrating its 30th anniversary, the 2016 SHOT Show proved to be a very special time for company founder Bill Jordan.
With a huge crowd assembled on the show floor of the Sands Expo Center, home to the 38th edition of the SHOT Show, the day’s first big event took place with a large crowd gathering around the Realtree booth.
The crowd was present to see Jordan – with a little help from NASCAR racing legend Richard Childress – unveil the 2016 Chevrolet Silverado Realtree edition pick-up, a black exterior truck accented with Realtree camouflage graphics.
After addressing the crowd, Jordan had the cover pulled from the Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71 crew cab model. Like a child on Christmas morning, the Realtree founder and co-host of Realtree Outdoors on Outdoor Channel then began to smile big as he inspected the truck.
As Jordan examined the vehicle, Childress – a month away from the start of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup season at Daytona International Speedway – reflected on his longtime friendship with Jordan.
“We’ve been with Realtree now probably since 1995,” said Childress, noting a business relationship that goes back to the racing days of the late Dale Earnhardt when Jordan began to help sponsor the legendary #3 Chevrolet NASCAR racing vehicle.
“It’s been a great relationship,” added Childress, whose North Carolina-based Richard Childress Racing team has won six Winston Cup NASCAR championships over the years.
“We believe in the outdoors, we believe in everything we’re doing.”
Like Jordan’s long affiliation with the Chevy brand, Childress’ own relationship with the car and truck making giant began a long time ago, back in the 1970s.
And that affiliation with Chevy not only includes Childress’ NASCAR racing efforts, but also the outdoors recreational pursuits of the longtime hunter and second vice-president of the National Rifle Association.
“It’s a great partnership that Bill has put together (for this event today),” said Childress. “I couldn’t be any (prouder) to be a part of it.”
Sandor Piszar, director of Chevrolet truck marketing, said the feeling is mutual.
“It’s a great partnership,” said Piszar. “Bill is a genuine outdoor enthusiast and he’s a real Chevy guy. It’s a partnership built on trust and mutual respect.”
And that includes Chevy’s deep respect for the hunters and fishermen who love to get outdoors.
“The customer base for outdoors enthusiasts, they are truck guys,” smiled Piszar. “And they’re Chevy truck guys. So it’s really a nice fit to do this special edition with Bill. We think we’re going to have a very strong reaction to this truck.”
Piszar has some recent fuel to back up that statement since the unveiling at the SHOT Show wasn’t the first time that Chevrolet and Realtree have been a part of a special edition truck featuring the company’s camouflage patterns.
At the 2015 SEMA Show (Specialty Equipment Market Association) in Las Vegas, longtime Outdoor Channel star and Team Realtree member Michael Waddell was a part of the unveiling of a Realtree Bone Collector concept truck.
“People were excited about it when we rolled out the concept vehicle at SEMA this past November,” said Piszar. “We got such an overwhelmingly positive response (then), we knew we had to bring a vehicle to market (like the) Realtree special edition Silverado and here we are today.”
How tough was it to keep the finished product – which was under wraps most of the morning – from the curious eyes of Jordan?
“(It was) incredibly tough,” laughed Piszar. “(And) not just throughout the process, but (also) here on the show floor (since) we had it (out here) covered up and he was trying to take peeks under the cover. We had a security guard on this thing because people had been trying to look at it and they even shooed Bill away.”
As Jordan and his son Tyler looked the Realtree special edition truck over, Piszar nodded in their direction: “It’s been tough (to keep it from him), but I think it was worth it. He was (really) excited and happy about how the truck came out.”
A longtime supporter of hunting and fishing enthusiasts and their outdoors pursuits – not to mention some of the outdoor television shows that consumers watch – Piszar noted the importance of his company’s support of such recreational pursuits.
“It’s incredibly important,” he said. “Chevy is an authentic brand and we want to make sure that we are connecting with our customers and that we are delivering the products that our customers are looking for.
“When you talk about hunting, fishing, shooting and outdoors enthusiasts, man, these people love Chevy trucks and it’s important that we’re here talking to them.”
For Jordan, the new truck helped kick off a year that will feature the 30th anniversary celebration of the Georgia-based company he founded back in the 1980s.
“It’s hard to believe that Realtree has been out 30 years here at the SHOT Show,” said Jordan. “But this is kind of the icing on the cake, seeing this Chevrolet truck. It’s been in development for several years.”
Jordan also humorously alluded to the secrecy of the project.
“Chevrolet actually kind of kept it a secret from me a little bit,” Jordan smiled, noting that the only thing he had really seen was some of the vehicle’s interior design.
“But the truck looks absolutely better than I ever thought it would,” he added. “It’s a gorgeous looking truck.”
Since the days that he began making camouflage clothing so many years ago, many partners like Chevy have come aboard with the Realtree brand. Even so, Jordan noted that the longstanding partnership he has with the American auto making giant is a special one.
“You know, it is,” said Jordan. “Chevrolet has been just great to work with for a lot of years. I told people earlier (at Tuesday’s event) that I’ve been a Chevrolet fan forever. I’ve had Chevrolet at my household for over 40 years (now).”
Jordan mentioned that his favorite truck, one that he has used to do chores for many years at Realtree Farms in Georgia, is a 2001 edition Chevrolet Tahoe.
“It’s at the farm and when I go up there, I just love getting in it (and going to work),” he said.
And with that, Jordan smiled, turned back to the crowd and business partners gathered around the Chevy Realtree truck and did just that.
Which was going back to work, continuing to build an iconic camouflage brand, one big enough to have its own special edition truck on display in Las Vegas.