Cruising the Strip and Turning Heads
Originally published: 06.01.14 by Pete Grasso
Three HVACR business owners are taking mobile marketing to a new level
Since winning the inaugural HVACR Business Tops-in- Trucks Fleet Design contest in 2007, Carmine Galletta, owner of GallettAir Inc. in Long Island, N.Y., has continued to make a name for his business using mobile marketing.
Back then; in addition to his 25 trucks and vans, his winning wrap was featured on a Chevy HHR that was bold and memorable. Today, he’s got something that’s really going to turn heads and make his company stand out.
His 1994 Dodge Viper has been wrapped to look like a racecar, featuring his own company logo prominently on all four sides, along with the logos of many of his suppliers and business partners (including HVACR Business magazine).
“I wanted to make it look like a race car, so I spoke to a couple of my suppliers and asked if they’ve be interested in putting their name on the car,” Galletta says. “I didn’t ask for money — I did this as a courtesy because we’ve done business together for so long.”
Galletta originally purchased the Viper brand new in 1994. He knew he wanted to incorporate his company brand on the vehicle and make people notice.
“Fast service, fast car,” he says. “On Long Island, there are a lot of car enthusiasts, so this really catches a lot of eyes driving around. It’s not used
It wasn’t until recently, however, that the Viper got the full-on logo treatment, though it had been on Galletta’s mind for a while.
“I have a model Viper sitting on my desk,” he explains. “One day, my nephew took it home and put a bunch of stickers on it and gave it to me. I thought it was pretty cool, and I had been looking at it for a few years. Finally, I decided to do that to the real thing.”
Galletta employed a company called 631 Coatings in Bay Shore, N.Y. to put a wrap on the red car to give it an anodized aluminum look. Then, working off a pencil sketch he did himself, Galletta went to a professional graphic artist to mock up all the logos.
“It’s amazing how it went from almost nothing to what it is now,” Galletta says.
As the season gets underway this year, Galletta is anxious to get his newly designed Viper out in the public eye. He plans to take it to some of the suppliers whose logos are on it, as well as community events, parades and local car shows.
“Sid Harvey’s is opening a new branch, so I’ll probably drive it out there for their grand opening,” Galletta says.
Mostly, he plans to simply drive it around Long Island and advertise his company.
“When my parts manager has to pick up small items, I let him drive it around the island,” Galletta says. “He gets so much attention — he loves it. We’re always getting a thumbs up from people as we drive by.”
A car enthusiast, this isn’t the first time Galletta has used a unique automobile to market his company. Previously, he’s put his logo on a 1961 Ford truck. He also capitalized on the PT Cruiser craze when that model was brand new.
“Back when the PT Cruiser first came out in 2000, we had one for GallettAir with the company logo on it,” he said. “We used to use it when we’d go out to do estimates and, when we’d leave, we’d give the customer a little toy PT Cruiser with the logo on it as well.”
Going Old School
Galletta isn’t the only contractor who uses a conversation piece automobile to keep his company name top of mind.
Max Chevalier, owner of Dave’s Plumbing & Heating LLC in Belington, W.Va. drives a 1957 Chevy panel truck with his company’s logo and information on it.
“The first question I always get is, ‘what year is it?’”
Chevalier says. “Most people guess mid-50s, and are surprised to learn it’s a ’57.” Chevalier bought the truck about six years ago and since then he hasn’t seen another one on the road. Combined with the bold red and white paint job and lettering for Dave’s Plumbing & Heating, the Chevy is definitely a showstopper.
Everything about the truck is original — the engine, the interior — though Chevalier admits the body was a bit rough when he bought it.
“The gentleman I bought it from was doing a full restoration, but stopped in 2003,” he explains. “It sat for about three years with just primer on it before he sold it to me. I was anxious to get paint on it right away and see how reliable it was.”
Chevalier puts about 3,000 miles a year on it — from April to November — and uses it for company branding only. He takes it to distributor events and parades, as well as driving it to do estimates or take small equipment out to jobs.
This isn’t Chevalier’s first classic car either. He had been fixing up a 1948 Plymouth when a friend suggested he fix one up for his business.
“A buddy of mine had a 1955 Chevy Workmaster, which is basically a station wagon like the Nomad built for tradesmen,” he says. “I tried to get him to sell that to me, until I saw this panel truck.”
When Chevalier found the ’57 Chevy, he immediately knew it was perfect (he has five other Chevy and GMC vans in his fleet). He sold the Plymouth and used the money to purchase the panel truck.
“It fits well with our fleet,” Chevalier says. “And it’s designed similar to the rest of the trucks.”
A classic car with a company logo on it definitely turns heads, so Rich Imfeld took it a step further when he decided to make the move.
Imfeld owns I.C. Refrigeration Inc. in Ceres, Calif., a 74-year-old, third-generation company. To make his showpiece unique, Imfeld purchased a Chevy truck from 1940— the same year his grandfather started the company.
“I wish I could say I found the truck in my grandfather’s barn,” Imfeld says. “But a 1940 truck is something I sought out on purpose because it underscores our company’s rich history.”
The idea actually came about through Imfeld’s ACCA mix group.
“They really pushed me to pursue this; to move forward with a truck the same year our company was founded,” Imfeld said. Imfeld’s 1940 Chevy certainly sets people talking. On a recent 300-mile trip up and down California, Imfeld said passersby were honking at him the whole way.
“I’ve been pulled over by the highway patrol once,” he laughs. “Because they wanted to ask me about the truck.”
State troopers aren’t the only ones who strike up a conversation with Imfeld. As a mostly commercial service company, Imfeld deals a lot with facility managers, who he’s found enjoy talking about the truck as much as fly-fishing.
“It definitely helps take our relationships to a new level,” Imfeld says. I use it to make deliveries and do sales calls, and I’m never short on people who want to connect and talk about it.”
Imfeld admits he’s always liked to tinker and, looking back, said the one thing he’d do different is to find a 1940 truck to which he could have done a complete frame-up restoration. Something he is happy he did, though, is put the original 1940s I.C. Refrigeration logo on it (with the current phone number and website, of course).
“The truck has been used as a prop at the local performing arts center,” Imfeld says. “I also let the guys borrow the truck on the weekends, to cruise around on their own time, and for high school homecomings and parades.”
As our annual Tops-in-Trucks Fleet Design contest shows, it’s all about making an impression with your mobile billboards. Galletta, Chevalier and Imfeld have taken this a step further with their unique take on top-of-mind marketing through their vintage — and sporty — cars branded with their respective companies.
HVACR companies are always looking to generate leads, and sometimes it’s as simple as putting your name out there in a memorable way. All three business owners attest, a lot of calls come in referencing their cool cars. And that’s what it’s all about.
Articles by Pete Grasso
Tops in Trucks 2016: Image is Everything
R-22 Phase Out: What Contractors Really Need to Know
You Have a Lot to Teach Each Other
Association meetings, industry events and mix groups are great venues in which to share ideas and learn from those who have been where you are and where you plan to go with your business.
Larry Zarker, CEO of Building Performance Institute
Make Smart Hiring Decisions
When you’re short-staffed, looking for the right person to join your company is the last thing on which you want to spend precious time. But, it’s a necessary process that shouldn’t be rushed.