Trucks have been rolling billboards for as long as there have been trucks. Beer distributors and haulers were among the very first fleets to realize the advertising potential a sharp looking fleet of trucks and trailers could offer.
Today, Bear Trucking, a beer carrier based in San Bernardino, California, is carrying on that tradition thanks to a new quick-change graphics system created by Spedian Changeable Graphics System and offered by fleet services graphics provider Modagrafics.
MillerCoors has provided Bear Trucking and other distributors with fleet decal kits for the last 15 years to boost product awareness in the highly competitive North American beer market. As a dedicated fleet, Bear ships beer from MillerCoors’ Irwindale, California brewery to distributors in several western states, and all of its trailers carry brand marketing messages on the sides and back panels.
Modagrafics already had an established relationship with MillerCoors and was in the process of introducing Spedian, a transformative graphics system with a sizeable economic impact on cost, time and labor savings. No longer would it take $2,000 and two weeks of strenuous effort to sand off old printed decals, and then another $3,000 plus two more weeks to install on every trailer.
The latest phase of a well-coordinated, multi-year campaign initiated by the national brewer that allows Bear Trucking to rebrand its trailers quickly, more efficiently and at a significant cost savings, is nearing completion. What once took nearly 30 days and required taking trucks out of service has been reduced to around in one week, courtesy of the splashy new artwork promoting the Coors Light brand. The graphics are being applied to more Bear trailers, ahead of warmer weather when beer sales begin to tick upwards as people rediscover outdoor activities.
“Our procurement team worked with Modagrafics to do a test program with Bear in 2017 before doing the larger scale project last year,” says Jessefer Vazquez, the MillerCoors sales operations coordinator in Southern California who acts as a liaison with Bear Trucking. “It was a rigorous process that began with the corporate team conducting an initial evaluation at Modagrafics’ facilities near Chicago. Then our team completely vetted the new Spedian system in field trials at several locations. We evaluated many different things related to the weather and environment out here.”
When MillerCoors approached him about Bear Trucking being a test fleet for the new graphics system, owner Sonny Woodall liked what he heard. Due to the previous cost factors around removing and replacing fleet decals – not to mention keeping them out of service for weeks – the company only changed the graphics on their trailers every three years. He approved the switch to Modagrafics’ Spedian system and phase one was launched last October. That project involved converting 34 trailers at Bear Trucking’s headquarters in San Bernardino.
“It’s a modern material that tightens up in the sun and loosens a bit when it cools,” Woodall said. “It’s easy to clean and after two years, we’ve had no issues with it all. The response has been great from our customers and our drivers really like it too, because our trucks and trailers really look sharp.”
“The appearance of our trucks and trailers has always been a priority for us,” said Jeff Watson, general manager of Bear Trucking. “The Spedian system was a new concept for us, but it turned out to be pretty awesome. The installation and turn-around times are great. If we want to do specialized graphics for a few months – say over football season – it’s quick and easy to get those graphics in place with minimal disruption to our operations. And recently, when we had a trailer damaged in accident, it cost $670 to replace the entire graphic skin on one side of the unit, which is pretty cheap in my estimation.”
Watson says typical installation times for a single trailer average from 30 to 45 minutes, with the dedicated Modagrafics crew completing 4 to 5 trailers a day. During the installation, however, the two-person installation crew was timed at just 18 minutes to complete a full graphics changeover on a trailer.
At the end of the re-branding process, 34 of Bear Trucking’s trailers will be sporting the new graphics package with additional marketing messages being applied as MillerCoors approves them.
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