Tops in Trucks
The Tops in Trucks Fleet Design Contest is our annual homage to outstanding fleet vehicle advertising and graphic design. Small business owners understand the importance of high-visibility marketing, but particularly endemic to owners of HVACR, plumbing, and electrical businesses is the need to display marketing on the fleet vehicles as your team of technicians is out traveling throughout the community daily. As such, there is no better marketing tool than a moving billboard – otherwise known as a fleet wrap. Our winners have reported that not only do the fleet wraps bring a huge boon to business, but they increase company visibility and their presence in the community. One said that the community had grown to love seeing their trucks out on the road with such recognizable, innovative, and fun graphics.
The Tops in Trucks Fleet Design Contest launched in 2007 and it is still one of our most popular issues. Over the years thousands of contractors have submitted entries, but this year’s winners particularly have advanced passed a stringent set of criteria to emerge the best in the field.
While the competition was fierce as always, a handful of entries stood out for their eye-catching, brilliant fleet designs. Although all the entrants were phenomenal, the fleet designs that we selected as winners, in this, our 15th iteration of the contest, displayed bold, colorful artwork combined with imaginative, integrative company messaging.
As one winner said, “We knew we needed something better than white vans. The fleet design was always in our plan and the community loves seeing our trucks on the road.” A clean, simple, design with fresh messaging is your company calling card. In our business, how you show up to the appointment, the appearance of the trucks, and the professional look of your fleet and drivers, are as important as how you finish the job. An impressive, well-designed fleet wrap will not only establish a brand identity but bolster the reputation and visibility of an already well-run business.
This year, once again, all the Tops in Trucks 2022 entrants acknowledged the incredible and profitable benefits of fleet design as part of an overall marketing plan. However, many of them went as far as to say it was by far the best investment decision made yet. With that kind of commitment and enthusiasm, it is clear why this contest is one of the HVACR industry’s most celebrated. We certainly look forward to it annually. Below are our choices, the ones who stood out for design, concept, and messaging. All the following fleet designs displayed vivid, eye-catching, imaginative, and integrative messaging. In a word – superlative is the best way to describe the list of 2022 Tops in Trucks Winners.
Pride Plumbing Heating & Cooling
Grand Junction, CO | 6 Vehicles
Chad Collins started Pride Plumbing Heating & Cooling in 2000, after working in plumbing for years. At his previous company, the one just before venturing out on his own, Collins was cross-trained in HVACR, and fortunately, learned very quickly. So, when the opportunity presented itself to start Pride, he was more than ready. Collins believes strongly in the importance of process and team building and says he is constantly reading about business, marketing, and ways to improve. Said Collins, “After rebranding in 2020 and wrapping all our trucks, we nearly doubled our revenue from 2019. 2020 was one of our best years to date, even with the pandemic.” And said Collins, about one of the most lucrative investments he has ever made in his company, “Fleet design is the best advertising. The trucks act like rolling billboards.”
As for our team’s choice to name Pride as a 2022 top three winner, we loved the Pride messaging and design, particularly the wrench as the lion’s nose, and the bold color scheme. Collins too was more than excited about the design and the win, saying he loved the idea of Tops in Trucks and the chance to be recognized for excellence in yet another forum. He added finally, “With the overwhelming success of the branding, we have plans on expanding the business into neighboring communities over the next few years.”
Notably, we also interviewed Mr. Collins for this installment of 20 Questions. His answers were not only thoughtful but educational. You can read the full article at the end of this issue. https://www.prideplumbingphc.com
Fresno, CA | 35 Vehicles
Founded in 2012, Balanced Comfort has always had as its aim, the goal to empower customers with information about homes and how to use energy efficiently.
While they provide a range of services, including energy audits to help customers make better-informed decisions on energy upgrades, in 2020, they shifted the focus intently to air conditioning & heating services. It was then, mid-pandemic, that Balanced Comfort rebranded with the launch of their newest fleet design. It would turn out to be a very munificent decision.
According to owner Aaron Husak, it was one of the smartest moves he could have made for business visibility and revenue – both of which skyrocketed. Said Husak, “In 2021, the fleet design is what helped us achieve the honor of being named the 817 fastest growing company. (Balanced Comfort is ranked 817 on the prestigious INC. 5000 list, the highest of any Fresno area company.) Added Husak, “When our competitors see our vans, our logo, our colors, the blue, and vibrant green, they know it’s us. They know that we’re the top competitor now in the community.” Some might call that brilliant disruptive marketing. The only regret said Husak if there is one, “I would have done it sooner.”
As a team, we loved the graphics and the serenity of the blue and green colors. For us, the integration of the messaging – a smiling house that evokes feelings and virtues like trust, friendship, and balanced energy – combined with the soothing, green, and blue graphics, definitively achieved their intended objective. https://balancedcomfort.com.
Gee Heating & Air
Gainesville, GA | 10 Vehicles
An evergreen staple in the Gainesville, Georgia area, Gee Heating & Air has been providing heating and cooling services to Gainesville, since 1989. The third-generation family-owned business boasts a 5-star Google rating and an A+ BBB rating as evidence of its excellent quality of service and stellar reputation. Gee provides HVAC services to residential customers, handling everything from minor repairs to the new installation. The patriarch, Joe Henry Gee began working in the HVAC industry in 1954 as a custom duct builder in Gainesville, Georgia. In 1989, after several years in business as Willis and Gee, his partner, Mr. Willis, chose to retire. Joe H. Gee brought in his son, Tim Gee, to create Gee Heating & Air.
In recent years, Gee Heating & Air, the family business has continued to grow, welcoming the addition of Tim’s sons, Joseph, and Jacob. Joseph currently serves as Chief Operations Officer and holds a Georgia Non-Restricted Commercial HVAC Contractor’s License. Jacob joined the business in 2014 and now serves as Chief Financial Officer. It was Jacob who entered the Tops in Trucks contest.
The rethinking of the legacy brand includes the new slogan, “We deliver the O-M-GEE Experience!” When asked if this rebranding and subsequent fleet design was part of a larger branding initiative, Gee answered, “Yes, we rebranded to the new GEE! logo to help people pronounce our name and capture the brand energy. Customers enjoy the infusion of excitement this innovative branding brings to our 33-year-old name.” And says the CFO, “It’s helped us stand out from the competition – the bright colors and messaging. It communicates the brand energy, our difference in quality, speed, and certainly the passion we put into our work.” Gee states that since rebranding with the fleet design in 2021, the company has seen a 131% return on investment.
Our editorial team enjoyed the fun, almost comic book-style graphics. The GEE! design conjures up the *BLAM* or *POW* type phrases of yesteryear comic books. GEE! is spelled out in a word bubble of course. The brand messaging fits this Gainesville company well. The comic book throwback graphics represent the legacy company and its long American history, combined with the recognizable Gee name and a next-generation design – it all leads to a win. Jacob Gee said it well. The fleet design illustrates the energy of the brand – classic service delivered with passion, speed, and the highest quality. https://geehvac.com/
Mobile, AL | 12 Vehicles
Surfside Services is a new company, having only just started in 2021. So, it was extremely exciting to see this HVACR start-up display such a keen focus on branding right from its launch. Owner Beau Lehmann said of the idea to launch the business with wrapped trucks, “It was a very big priority for us.” And, he said, “We knew we wanted to work with a marketing company to create the fleet design, but also had our own clear concept in mind. Living on the Gulf Coast of Alabama, it was important to us to have a geographical marker in our name and the overall branding. We also wanted our trade diversity to be represented. That is how the Surfside name and the octopus logo came to be. An octopus not only changes colors, but it also has an arm for everything. From that point of view, we brought our ideas and vision to the marketing team.”
Finally said Lehmann, “Our largest investment after launching was our fleet campaign. We launched in 2021 with this fleet design and it has grown faster than we could have imagined. It has been challenging to scale at the rate at which we are growing. Customer response has been incredible.”
As an editorial team, we loved the integrated messaging and the fun octopus artwork. The graphics seem like billboards you might see at the beach on a boardwalk vacation. The messaging is consistent on their site and social platforms as well. When you choose to request service at their website, it instructs you to click the surfboard – clever. We look forward to seeing what this young HVACR owner does in the future. www.surfside.services.com
Grasshopper Heating and Cooling
Albany, NY | 14 Vehicles
Grasshopper Heating and Cooling is a locally owned HVACR company in Albany. Owner, Amanda Triolo said the company was deeply in need of change. In 2021, she moved to launch a large rebranding initiative, of which the fleet design was a big part. “The Grasshoppers,” said Triolo “only move in a forward direction. It is our entire brand story and our ongoing company mission. ‘Forward is a way of life’, is our tagline and is featured consistently on all three sides of every vehicle. It represents our company and demonstrates our pledge to take care of our community.
The residential growth increased by 2,928% in just eleven months after rebranding. Customers absolutely love it! Triolo added, “We are no longer the underdog, and we are growing faster than we could have ever imagined.”
Our team thoroughly enjoyed the heart-warming design. The grasshopper donned in a technician hat as he hovers over the neighborhood protectively – it’s simply adorable, not to mention the integration of the forward messaging. https://gograsshopper.com/
Southern Heating & Cooling, Inc
Scottsboro, AL| 4 Vehicles
Southern Heating & Cooling, Inc. has been in business since 1984. Located in Scottsboro, Alabama, the team not only boasts, a record ofemale-owned that spans thirty-five years, and award-winning service, but the company has been female-owned since 2018. When asked about the impetus for the rebranding and subsequent fleet design, President, Erica Estes said, “We wanted something different, something that would set us apart from our competition. Our previous design catered more to the commercial side of the business and did not capture the attention of our residential market. We chose to keep the deep red that we’d used in our previous logo but bring in some bold blue hues as well since red and blue are the most representative colors of heating and cooling. While Estes said it was a large investment, and too early to evaluate its ROI, she believes that it made good financial sense.” If the customers’ reactions are any indication, then she got it right. Estes added, “We get calls & texts from customers saying they've seen it on the road, and it caught their attention.”
The editorial team liked the solid, bold design juxtaposed with the blue and red ribbon-like design which elicited feelings of award-winning. The overall message was delivered well – a history of experience combined with an award-winning, modern sensibility for this female-owned, Southern company. https://southernheating.com/about/
Hawley Air Heating and Cooling
Clemmons, NC | 12 Vehicles
Founded in 2015, owner Barton Hawley is proud of the vivid, striking design that has now garnered Hawley Air Heating and Cooling an honorable mention. With good reason too – the initial design is not only eye-catching, but it was his father’s initial conception before bringing it to a marketing firm to make it come alive. Said Hawley, “The employees were also a big part of the concept. We initially had three designs from which to choose, and after a group discussion, decided on the final one.” Also, when asked about the investment and whether he had found a favorable return yet, Hawley responded, “Being that it’s such a new design, we don't have a lot of history on our return. However, our revenue is up 40% this first quarter. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.”
We thought the bold, unforgettable choice of the letters H and A to create the logo, was strikingly bold. And the distinctive, clean design, delivers a strong message of confidence, expertise, and professionalism. https://triadsbesthvac.com
Smooth Sailing Heating & Cooling
Boiling Springs, SC | 2 Vehicles
Smooth Sailing Heating & Cooling recently went through a complete rebranding, everything from the company name to the logo, and finally, an investment in fleet design. The owner, George Childers describes the rebranding as an ongoing process, having only just begun at the start of 2022. Said Childers, “We first had to decide on Smooth Sailing as the new company name because it ties into the lakes in our area. As for colors, we chose the sunset shades with easy blue accents, because that concept elicits feelings of a good day at the lake or the beach and sets people at ease. Our mascot, Captain Comfort, is also warm and friendly.
Our team chose to honor this entry because we thought it too offered a unique brand message and design and evoked feelings of trust, wisdom, experience, and calm – all traits you would want in an HVACR company. http://advantair.services/
Mission, Kansas | 11 Vehicles
When asked about the recent fleet wrap design, Brad McGhee, owner of LBA Services, replied, “Since 1985, LBA has evolved its brand to modernize its appeal both internally and to our community.” In describing the most recent evolution of the brand, said McGhee, “The brilliant, vibrant colors you see in our wraps today are in the same family as our previous logo, for consistency, along with our trusted name. The LBA fleet design makes our community smile. Our bold hero leaps forward across vehicles emulating our energy and urgency. The color palette is vibrant and memorable. The Kansas City skyline ensures our community that we are locally owned.” And he stated, as part of their overall renovation, “The new website won Best Professional Services Website in 2022 in the IAC Internet Advertising Competition.” McGhee said they entered Tops in Trucks because he felt that in addition to the site rebranding, “The fleet design should be celebrated as well!” As an editorial team, LBA’s design was a favorite of ours mainly because it spoke of all-American values and aligned with the Kansas pride that the company displays throughout. Both the art and messaging, with the HVACR superhero rushing to the rescue – it all works beautifully.
Air Innovations LLC.
Austin, TX | 31 Vehicles
Air Innovations LLC is family-owned by Troy & Kelly Behrens since 2005. While the design did not place at the top of the winner’s circle this year, we felt compelled to honor this company with a special mention award for wrapping the roof with their logo so that people can see their brand design and messaging from two-story houses and high-rise buildings. Owner Troy Behrens said of the design, “We designed it in-house. The fact that our vans are bright red already helps us stand out, but also our look is 100% wrapped. Even the roof has the logo. Putting the logo on top helps us stand out from two-and three-story homes and businesses. If you look out a window, any window, you know it is Air Innovations LLC!
We agreed and loved the clever use of marketing by Air Innovations LLC!
Congratulations to all the winners. Your efforts have not gone unrecognized!
Heather Langone is Managing Editor at HVACR Business Magazine.
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