Leo Houck was the originator and original owner of Houck Motor Coach Advertising. His first job was with the Twin City Street Railway Company as a schedule checker and also as the summer time dance hall manager at Wildwood Park on White Bear Lake, which was also owned by the streetcar company.
After a few years in the Marines at the end of WW I, Leo started working with his brothers, Joe and Pete, selling advertising on the stage curtains of all of the vaudeville theaters in Minneapolis and St. Paul. They also had the candy franchise in all of the theaters and initiated the installation of candy/gum machines on the back of every theater seat. In 1919, the first bus line in Minnesota, the Brown Bus Company, began a transit service between St. Paul and Minneapolis with two buses. The Houck brothers contracted with Brown Bus Company to expand their business by at first selling advertising on the theater curtains and giving them an ad on the inside of the buses. Thus the future Houck Motor Coach Advertising Company unofficially had its first beginning.
In 1954, Leo’s two sons Richard and Robert returned from military service and took over the bus advertising company and operated it for the next 20 years until the Twin Cities Metropolitan Transit (now publicly owned) finally took over all of the independent suburban bus companies. At that time in 1976, Leo retired and Richard purchased the Houck Motor Coach Advertising Co. from Robert and continued to operate in Rochester, Austin, Faribault, Mankato, Eau Claire, Duluth, and La Crosse.
In 1995, Richard retired and his sons, Thomas and Paul continued the operation of the bus advertising company and expanded it into many more markets. Now, Houck Transit Advertising serves over 40 public transit systems in states throughout the United States including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Louisiana and Georgia. Houck Transit Advertising became a fourth generation company in 1999 with Justin Houck, Thomas’ son, serving as art director before moving into sales and now as President.