Justin Mayer, General Manager at Hess Toy Truck, on Trucks, Trucks and More Trucks!

by The Bloom Report | 19 Oct 2023

Biographies and Interviews


Thank you, Justin, for taking time to share a bit about yourself with our readers! What are your roles and responsibilities in our industry?

JM: As General Manager, I oversee all aspects of Hess Toy Truck, including operations and marketing.


What is your claim to fame?

JM: As one of the best-selling and longest running toy brands in America, we’ve had an unmatched reputation for outstanding quality at affordable pricing since our humble beginning in 1964, and we’re really proud of it. Our iconic Holiday Toy Truck continues to be among the largest holiday gift giving traditions for generations of families across the country – so popular that toys sell out every year – and we’re immensely proud of that too!

While our famous holiday trucks have certainly put us on the map among families and collectors nationwide, ideating and executing new ways to provide kids with high-quality, affordable fun (including our Plush collection, Minis series, and so much more!) is what makes our jobs at Hess Toy Truck so special.  


What are you working on now?

JM: This has been a very busy, but very fun year for Hess Toy Truck. This week, we released our annual Holiday Toy Truck, back and better than ever as… drumroll please… the 2023 Hess Police Truck and Cruiser! It’s a heroic pair of first responder vehicles with amazingly realistic details and high-quality features. We’ve already seen incredible praise for the product among Hess fans, families, and collectors nationwide, and we’re excited to add it to our expanding roster of highly sought after collectible toys that often soar to the top of holiday gift lists! 

We’ll also be continuing our annual giving program, which provides approximately 20,000 toy trucks to classrooms nationwide, alongside a STEM curriculum guide that provides lessons featuring the 2023 Police Truck and Cruiser as a STEM learning tool. Teachers can apply for a free set of 12 toy trucks and download the guide at HessToyTruck.com/stem.  In addition, we’ll also be donating more than 10,000 toy trucks to support various police department toy drives benefiting children in need. So, it’s certainly a busy and exciting holiday season.

Outside of the holiday release, we launched three other beloved Hess Toy Truck products this year, including the My Plush Hess Truck: 2023 Tugboat (which is available now), the 25th Anniversary Mini Collection (now sold out), and our 2023 Collector’s Edition Ocean Explorer (now sold out). There’s so much more fun to come as we look ahead to 2024 and we can’t wait to share it with you!


How do you define innovation?

JM: Innovations can be big or small.  When the first Hess Toy Truck was released in 1964 with working lights and batteries included, that was pretty innovative!   “The Hess Truck’s back and it’s better than ever” isn’t just a slogan or TV commercial tagline, but our mission statement to continually innovate and improve the quality and play features in our toys.  The Plush series we introduced is a great example of innovation, where we are the only plush toy with lights and sounds that is also safe for all ages.  We worked really hard to innovate so that even newborns could play with our Plush.  On a strategic level as an example, when Hess sold the gas stations back in 2013, we had to get really innovative really fast to quickly transition the 50-year old gas station Toy Truck program into a state of the art Direct-to-Consumer online-only business which has allowed the program to continue and thrive today.   Whether it’s product, operations, customer service, or business model innovations, we’re doing a great job  given each product released has sold out every year since the brand’s inception!


What’s next?

JM: We just released the newest holiday Hess Toy Truck this week, so we’ll continue to put time and focus into making this launch a huge success, but there’s also so much more fun ahead! As we look to 2024, we have an incredible lineup of products in the works, including a new Plush and Mini Collection. We’re also gearing up to celebrate a HUGE milestone: Hess Toy Truck’s 60th anniversary!


Do you have a mantra that you live by?

“If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.” When I first read that line by Max Ehrmann in Desiderata during college it immediately struck me and has always stayed with me as something I live by and reinforce with my own children.  To me the lesson is broad – blaze your own path, do the things that make you happy, and look for ways to help others up who need it. 


What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I feel a bit like Santa Clause at times, bringing kids pure joy around the holidays.  It’s such an awesome responsibility to continue a beloved tradition like the Hess Toy Truck and I take the responsibility very seriously.  Getting to see the pictures that customers share via email or on social media of their family sharing Hess Toy Truck moments on Hanukkah or Christmas – that’s the most rewarding for me. I love that we bring joy and happiness to families across the country and that I get to see some of those moments. I really cherish that.


Where do you come up with your best ideas?

While exercising!  I’m a huge believer that you need to take care of your body to take care of your mind.  By no means am I a fitness focused person, but I find that the moments when we aren’t at our desks or in front of our phones allows our brain to function in fresh ways.  I’m a road biker and I find the best ideas come to me somewhere between the 10 and 30 mile marks (but after that I’m too tired to think!).


What are your favorite childhood memories?

Playing with toys!  I loved my Hess Toy Trucks and the connection I had with my aunt who ensured I got one each year.  But I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention the action figures and vehicles I loved to play with.  My brother and I would spend endless hours with our G.I Joes and Star Wars action figures battling it out.  I think that type of imaginative play is so important developmentally for kids and I wish that kids today stuck with that longer before turning to their electronic devices.  I know this still motivates me to help expand the Hess world of imaginative play with new vehicle designs each year!


Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Cheese! Lol


What music are you listening to now?

Whatever my teenage kids force me to listen to (Basically Taylor Swift whether I’m watching NFL or not).


What music will you always dance to?

My wedding song of course!  But also C & C Music Factory or Vanilla Ice!


What are your favorite sports and sports teams?

Die Hard Eagles fan!  Go Birds (and shhhh… don’t tell the Jets!).


What do you want to be when you grow up?

That’s a question I still don’t know the answer to!  I think the pressure we put on folks to know the answer is silly.  Seek out opportunities to skill-up, develop leadership, explore the things you find interesting, and be willing to take reasonable risks.  Eventually you’ll land somewhere that excites you and presents you the type of fulfilment you want.  Good luck!


Thank you for taking time to answer our questions thoughtfully and with a sense of play!

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