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Jimmy Rane recalls his response to ad execs wanting him to dress up as Yella Fella: ‘Are you crazy?!’

Yellowhammer CEO Cliff Sims sat down with Great Southern Wood Preserving CEO Jimmy Rane yesterday in Abbeville, Ala. to shoot the latest episode of “The Exchange.”

RELATED: Check out recent “Exchange” interviews with Steve Forbes and Austal President Craig Perciavalle

Over four decades ago, Rane started Great Southern Wood with one employee and a 1961 one-and-a-half ton pickup truck. Today, it’s the largest company of its kind in the entire world, with 15 treating facilities around the United States, doing business all over the globe.

There are a lot of reasons the company has been so successful, not the least of which is Rane’s leadership, but the company’s savvy marketing has played a big role as well.

Rane is perhaps best known around the country as the “Yella Fella,” a no-nonsense cowboy in a yellow outfit who takes out bad guys and re-builds rotten towns with YellaWood, Great Southern Wood Preserving’s brand of pressure treated pine.

YellaWood produced a series of videos starring Rane as the Yella Fella, including a Super Bowl ad.

Jimmy Rane as "The Yella Fella"
Jimmy Rane as “The Yella Fella”

Sims asked Rane on Thursday where the idea for the Yella Fella came from and what he initially thought about it.

“When they walked in I said, ‘Are you crazy? You want me to dress up like this yellow cartoon cowboy?'” Rane recalled. “Anyway, it worked out. We did it for several years. I had a good time.”

To say it “worked out” is probably an understatement. The ad campaign raised Rane’s profile to the point that many people began speculating that he might actually run for governor in 2010. He decided not to run, but his incredible track record in business and his widely-recognizable face and name continue to make him a point of speculation every election cycle.

Would he ever consider running? Watch the full interview on Sunday to find out his answer to that question so much more. In the mean time, check out the preview above.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims