Trumping the competition? York businesses share, seek connection

David Weissman
  • Trump Lawn and Land Company, in West Manchester Township, has no ties to Donald J. Trump.
  • Mike Trump, president of York landscaping company, says "it's been interesting" during primaries.

Mike Trump's family-owned West Manchester Township landscaping business shares no ties with the current Republican front-runner, but his employees have been subjected to political comments all the same.

Mike Trump stands next to one of the Trump Lawn and Land company trucks outside the West Manchester Township business Tuesday, April 12, 2016. He started the family business 14 years ago, long before Donald Trump's political aspirations came to light. Dawn Sagert photo

When Trump Lawn and Land Co. was created 14 years ago, Donald J. Trump was just a real estate mogul in New York.

"We had no idea he'd ever run for president," said Mike Trump, already president — of his company. "It's been interesting."

The business, at 1160 Zinns Quarry Road, is one of dozens of similarly named businesses across the country with no connection to a man known for putting his name on pretty much anything, according to an Associated Press report.

Businesses that share Trump name get swept up in the circus

Mohammad Yousefi, owner of Trump Tobacco in Huntington Beach, California, told the AP he chose the name 10 years ago because he thought he'd get some extra business from the presumed connection, but now he wonders what he was thinking.

Shop owner Mohammad Yousefi stands in his store Trump Tobacco April 6, 2016, in Huntington Beach, Calif. Dozens of businesses across the country bear the name Trump, and have no actual connection to the real estate developer and presidential candidate. I chose the name Trump 10 years ago, thinking, hes a rich guy with a lot of buildings, so maybe Ill get something out of his name, says Yousefi, owner of the small struggling tobacco shop.

His strip mall storefront that sells mostly cigarettes and cigars has been struggling lately, a downturn he can’t say for sure has anything to do with the the name, according to the AP.

Plenty of comments: Mike Trump, whose family is traditionally Republican, said business has remained mostly steady since Donald Trump announced his campaign, but his employees have heard plenty of political comments while out in the field.

He surmised the comments were probably 50-50 between supportive and negative.

When Donald Trump first announced his White House aspirations, Mike Trump said his company considered utilizing the publicity for some creative advertising.

Potential marketing ideas included a caricature of the mogul with an emphasis on the hair, a slogan including the former Apprentice host's famous "You're Fired" quote, or a promotion of the fact that the company doesn't use any migrant workers, which is in line with Donald's anti-immigration stance.

"We all shut it down pretty quickly," Mike Trump said, laughing, adding that they decided not to promote any more connection than already existed.

Look-alike: One York company without Trump in its name did elect to use the presidential candidate's national polarity to its advantage in an advertising campaign.

Springettsbury Township's NeFra Printing and Graphic Design paid for billboards throughout the county with a Donald Trump-look-alike in profile with the phrase, "Can you Trump this?" with Trump in all-caps, gold lettering.

Springettsbury Township business NeFra Printing and Graphic Design put this image on billboards throughout the county with one of their employees, Brian Courtright, in profile with Donald Trump's hair airbrushed onto his image.

Co-owner Frances Courtright said the marketing campaign resulted from employees just trying to have a little fun.

The company airbrushed Trump's infamous hair onto images of all its employees, and the one of Courtright's son, Brian, turned out "perfect," she said.

Brian Courtright, who's been featured on the billboards for months, now regularly gets called "Mr. Trump," Frances Courtright said.

Frances Courtright said the response has been 95 percent positive, with just a few anti-Trump people complaining.

"We aren't backing Trump (for president)," she said. "It's just a marketing campaign, and it certainly worked."

Business has improved thanks to the recognizable billboards, Courtright said, but they will be replaced this week with a new, "more artistic" image that also features one of their employees in profile and the slogan, "Dare to be Different!"

Sued: For some companies contacted by the AP, the Trump name and likeness was not exactly a blessing before the campaign began. Donald Trump has long been known for vigorously protecting the use of his name, which he licensed for use on other developers’ building projects and to market products including clothing, furniture, vodka and even steaks.

“He sued me over the name about 25 years ago,” says Claudia Rabin-Manning, whose Trump Travel in the Long Island community of Baldwin, New York, was initially named by a previous owner for the “trump card” used in games of canasta.

The case was dismissed after Trump’s attorneys demanded she post a disclaimer on the facade of the small storefront: “Not affiliated with Donald J. Trump or The Trump Organization.”

Mike Trump and Frances Courtright said they've never heard from anyone affiliated with Donald Trump. Courtright said she sent the image of her son to The Trump Organization before unveiling the billboards, but she never got a response.

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