Dude, where’s my duds?
What started off as a great idea has transformed the iconic Mack Bulldog’s look.

By Kerry Evans-Spillman, staff

Almost everyone recognizes the Mack bulldog. It’s nearly as common as the Coca-Cola logo or Mickey Mouse’s ears.

These days, it is not unusual to see a Mack truck rolling down the road with a bulldog decked out in one of a number of fashionable outfits. Mack Duds are the only Mack-licensed clothing line specifically for the iconic dogs who stand steadfastly perched on the hoods of Mack trucks.

Mack Duds are the creation of Patsy Herman of Westminster, Colo., and her son Shane. Together, with the help of Patsy’s daughter and Shane’s big sister, Shanan, they make them out of the “most durable plastics we can find,” Patsy says. “They are tough as nails.”

The cowboy hat, for example, attaches with high quality cord. Patsy says of all the clothes, “They snap on so that they stay.”

Inspiration for the line came from Patsy’s husband, a trucker named Jerry. He was enamored with Mack trucks, bulldog and all. Patsy said in Jerry’s eyes, Macks were “the toughest trucks on the road.”

When Jerry was only 32, he was killed in a crash unrelated to trucking. Sometime later, Patsy got herself a little blue Mazda pickup truck. And Shane, who followed in his dad’s footsteps and became a truck driver, bought a gold Mack bulldog to put on the hood in honor of his dad. She drove her Mack-enhanced Mazda for several years. When she sold it, she took the bulldog off and put him in a drawer as a keepsake.

What kind of truck does Shane drive? A Mack, of course, and the gold bulldog that was once on his mom’s Mazda is now mounted on the dash of his truck. (He prefers to keep it inside because of the sentimental value; he doesn’t want to risk it being stolen.) Patsy says she is proud of the way her son maintains his truck, describing it as “meticulously clean.” His rig also has a shiny silver bulldog on the hood.

One day in 2005, Shane came to his mom and said, “You know, Mom, we truckers talk and some of us get tired of looking at the dog’s butt.”

The two of them discussed different ideas, and eventually Patsy came up with five outfits: Jerry, the biker, named for her husband; Ginger, the girlie girl decked out in pink; Johnny, named for Patsy’s dad, an Air Force vet; Mack Man, the superhero; and a classic Santa suit.

Patsy began a patent process and made a phone call to Mack Trucks HQ in Allentown, Pa. She personally made the trip from the Denver area to Pennsylvania to present the Duds in person, which she said helped impress the people at Mack. While she was there, she also enjoyed a tour of the facility.

From that point, things happened fast. The Duds debuted at a truck show in Vegas and Patsy tells Land Line “everyone loved them.”

By the spring of 2006, Mack Duds were officially on the market and in the Mack catalog, where they’ve been there ever since. There are now almost a dozen different outfits and accessories for the bulldogs. Duds can also be found at the Iowa 80 Truckstop.

Mack Duds continue to be handmade by SPS Designs LLC. The initials represent Shanan, Patsy and Shane. Shanan doesn’t drive truck, but she contributes ideas and assists with packaging. Of the product Patsy says, “They stay on and we’re proud of them.”

SPS Designs recently expanded their offerings to include a new line of accessories for fans of the swan hood ornament.

Earlier in 2013, Patsy was enjoying a stroll in the park when she suddenly found herself trying to escape a particularly aggressive swan. As she ran to safety, she said the first thought she had was, “That is one bad-ass swan.”

On the way home from the park that day, she happened to see a swan ornament on a Peterbilt.

After a bit of experimentation at the sewing machine, Bad Ass Swans came to be. Shane thought his mom had gone off the deep end. But Patsy confesses to Land Line, “I’m just engrossed with this hood ornament thing,” adding that some of her future plans include a line of outfits for duck hood ornaments and Duds for the pewter Mack bulldog key chains.

Of the swans, she said there are two different styles of hood ornament, but she found that her Bad Ass Swan clothes fit both. Patsy expects to expand the offerings for the swans and has been working on a western outfit with fringe that she hopes to debut in 2014.

Patsy has always had a connection to trucking. Her grandfather and father were both drivers and owned an excavating business. She’s proud of building a successful, fun business with her family and thinks “it was a meant-to-be kind of thing.”

“I watch every truck that goes by on the road. And when I see an outfit, it’s like I won the lottery,” Patsy says. “I love the whole thing. It’s a passion, there’s no doubt about it.”

She feels sure she’s putting smiles on the faces of truckers, saying, “I think these guys love it, too.”

For more information, visit mackduds.com and mackduds.com/swan.html. LL