Off Beat: Truck commercial puts Bingen lumber mill in spotlight

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Northwest residents will recognize plenty of local flavor in a new Dodge truck commercial that began airing earlier this year.

The minute-long spot features sweeping shots of Bonneville Dam, the Portland skyline and the Astoria-Megler Bridge, among other landmarks.

But it's one particular detail that has Jason Spadaro's phone ringing.

About halfway through the commercial, a Dodge Ram pickup turns a corner hauling a load of lumber and a tractor. Look closely, and you'll see a familiar logo painted in red on the wood — that of Bingen-based SDS Lumber Company.

"We've had customers all over the country who have seen it on national television," said Spadaro, SDS Lumber's president.

"It's neat. It gives exposure to the local area."A separate shot shows the same truck pulling up to a construction site — at the top of a cliff, in case you weren't convinced of the truck's abilities — with the load and the SDS logo more visible. Several more scenes at the SDS lumber mill in Bingen follow. A baritone voice, detailing man's triumphs over natural obstacles, offers this:

"And we certainly weren't supposed to haul 30,000 pounds up by the bootstraps."

It's unusual for a television commercial to prominently feature the logo of another business. Dodge agreed to give some love to SDS Lumber partially in return for its hospitality, Spadaro said. A production company spent two full days at the SDS mill shooting the commercial in May, he said. Crews had been looking for the perfect place to showcase the trucks and ultimately decided the Bingen facility was it, Spadaro said.

Oh, and that voice-over? You might recognize him, too. That's Sam Elliott, the accomplished actor who attended Clark College in the 1960s.

Elliott concludes the ad after one final glamour shot of five Dodge commercial vehicles at the Bingen mill.

"Here's to the next frontier man isn't supposed to take on," he says.

— Eric Florip

Off Beat lets members of The Columbian news team step back from our newspaper beats to write the story behind the story, fill in the story or just tell a story.