It started four years ago when a little blue tractor rolled off of the New Holland assembly line in Dublin, Georgia, prepared to proudly face its future of doing the work it was built to accomplish. The little blue tractor knew it could faithfully carry out the smaller chores as it would watch the big muscle tractors leaving the machinery shed with the power needed to tackle those more demanding jobs in the fields that stretched to the horizons.
But, as fate would have it, the story didn't quite turn out that way. Instead, the little blue tractor was placed on a truck and headed westward across the nation, past massive fields, over mountains, and finally taken off the truck outside of a large garage in Burbank, California. A short time later the little blue tractor was driven into the large garage and introduced to scores of vehicles of all ages, shapes and sizes -- the likes of which it had never seen.
And so it was there, in the famous Jay Leno Garage, that the little blue tractor won over many friends during the following years as it dependably and gently pushed and pulled the other vehicles, guiding them to new locations within the garage whenever rearrangement was needed or vehicles needed servicing. The crew in the garage grew fond of the little blue tractor, which was especially excited when they carefully painted on the side of its shiny hood the name they had been calling it for months - The 'Lil Tug! Life was good in the little blue tractor's new home, the biodiesel fuel they fed it was great, and they even made certain that the 'Lil Tug stayed shiny clean and presentable.
However, the day finally came when the 'Lil Tug was to be retired when Jay Leno took possession this past May of a New Holland Boomer™ 8N, a limited edition tractor inspired by the legendary 8N tractor from the late 1940s. It was a beautiful tractor, but the 'Lil Tug was worried about its own future -- would it be lost, set aside, forgotten?
Instead, however, New Holland and Jay Leno are planning even bigger and more exciting events. The proudest and best days for the 'Lil Tug are yet to happen. Soon it will glisten under the spotlights of a major auction from which its proceeds would be gifted to a charity that would bring honor to the legacy of the 'Lil Tug.
In January of 2012, the 'Lil Tug will sport an array of patriotic colors as it glistens under the spotlights of the prestigious and world renown Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Fisher House Foundation, best known for its network of comfort homes built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers, will be the recipient of the auction proceeds.
The Fisher Houses are 5,000 to 16,800 square-foot homes, donated to the military and department of Veterans Affairs, where families can stay while a loved one is receiving treatment. The Foundation also ensures that families of service men and women wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan are not burdened with unnecessary expense during a time of crisis.
"Charity work is part of our business philosophy and helping the Fisher House Foundation to raise funds for their charity is something we are happy to do. Barrett-Jackson is proud to be associated with this charitable effort," states Craig Jackson, Chairman and CEO of Barrett-Jackson Auction Company.
Located in close proximity to the medical center or hospital it serves, each Fisher House consists of between 8 and 21 suites, with private bedrooms and baths. Families share a common kitchen, laundry facilities, spacious dining room and an inviting living room with a library and toys for children. Fisher House Foundation ensures that there is no fee to stay in the houses. Since inception, the program has saved military and veteran families an estimated $165 million in out of pocket costs for lodging and transportation.
"We look forward to successfully helping to make this joint effort a tremendous success and ultimately benefit military families. Barrett-Jackson offers a unique platform for the Fisher House Foundation to spread the word about their efforts. We are so proud to support the many men and women that protect our country", says Steve Davis, President of Barrett-Jackson.
New Holland Agriculture, the equipment company that initially loaned the tractor for work in the garage, was pleased with the outcome. "Our decision to auction the 'Lil Tug was greeted with great enthusiasm right from the very beginning," says Abe Hughes, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for New Holland Agricultural Business in North America. "New Holland working together with Jay Leno, Barrett-Jackson and the Fisher House Foundation will be monumental," adds Hughes. "It's going to be an exciting journey as we move forward toward the auction."
New Holland placed the tractor in the Jay Leno garage in 2007 shortly after the tractor manufacturer and Leno had discussions about their shared interest in the development of renewable alternative fuels including biodiesel, an area where New Holland is recognized at the industry leader. New Holland was the first equipment manufacturer to warrantly 100% biodiesel in all of the engines it manufactured.
Ken Fisher, Chairman & CEO of Fisher House Foundation, greeted the auction plans with humble enthusiasm. "The 'Lil' Tug has been a beloved member of Jay's extended family of vehicles for years, and we understand how important family is, especially at critical times," says Fisher. "We're humbled that Jay Leno and New Holland thought of us when they thought of the best way to support our military families. Knowing that Jay, New Holland and Lil' Tug are doing all they can to honor the service and sacrifice of our Armed Forces will mean so much to their speedy recovery."
Hughes, who met with Leno earlier this year, says New Holland is working closely with the Jay Leno team to make the 'Lil Tug even more appealing as the auction approaches. "But we're saving those surprises to be announced at a later date."
In the meantime, the little blue tractor that came from humble beginnings in Georgia to become the 'Lil Tug celebrity tractor is perhaps rehearsing its auction speech by repeating its mantra: "I Knew I Could! I Knew I Could! I Knew I Could!"