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Fleet Management

2024 Tops-In-Trucks Fleet Design Contest

Celebrating Excellence

Originally published
Originally published: 6/1/2024

It’s June, its summertime, business is about to burst, and our readers’ fleets will be rolling regularly throughout their territories. Let’s celebrate the winners of the 2024 Tops-In-Trucks Fleet Design Contest for their creativity and strategic thinking. They deserve it. And while they extol the message, personality and style of the companies they represent, allow me one more description that I believe is fitting: They are moving works of art that make us pause, appreciate and remember.

Each year, we recognize and celebrate the industry's most striking and effectively branded service vehicles. HVACR Business magazine proudly announces the winners, runners up and honorable mention entries for 2024. These companies not only shine in functionality, they also excel in aesthetics, making them stand out on the roads and in customers' minds.

As in past years, we evaluated candidates based on our eight-point criteria – graphic appeal, quality logo, information, lettering, color, legibility, creativity and consistency. We first considered color and aesthetic appeal, as these elements make the first impression as vehicles travel on the roads or pull up to a service call. Vibrant colors and eye-catching designs not only distinguish these fleets from competitors but also enhance the professional image of the companies they represent.

The judging criteria are the starting point for every contestant. And their application ultimately leads to the success of our three winners, runners-up, and four honorable mentions.

Our editorial team considers itself fortunate to have so many entries each year.  We realize fleet vehicles are the main – if not only – investment many contractors make in marketing. It’s an important line item in the budget and one you don’t want to leave to chance. The best contractors know how to make the most of their rolling billboards. And, our contest is our annual opportunity to pore over entries, evaluate, and to measure the best of the best. Great fleet design is a perfect balance between imagery, vibrancy and legibility. 

Over the years, we’ve seen more and more contractors investing in creative, eye-catching designs to set their fleets apart from the competition, which consistently elevates the quality of entries, and this year is no exception. 

The following are our top choices for the 2024 Tops-in-Trucks Fleet Design Contest! We’ve selected three winners, three runners-up, and four honorable mention selections.

WINNERS  photo

Cardinal Heating, Cooling, Plumbing & Electric Sun Prairie, WI | 110 Vehicles 

In the heart of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, stands a beacon of service excellence and innovative marketing—Cardinal Heating, Cooling, Plumbing & Electric, winner of our Tops In Trucks Fleet Design Contest. Founded in 1984 by Rick and Sharon Ouimette, Cardinal has grown from a small HVAC operation into a full-service contractor with offerings in plumbing and electrical work. The company’s COO, Keith Ouimette, is spearheading a dynamic transformation of their fleet of service vehicles, marking a new era in the company’s branding and visual impact.

Cardinal's fleet boasts 110 vehicles, a diverse collection featuring Ford Transits, GMC and Chevrolet Express vans, GMC Acadias, and several pickup trucks. This selection not only ensures operational efficiency but also aligns with the company's robust service requirements. The fleet expansion and redesign coincide with Cardinal’s 40th anniversary, celebrated on April 1, 2024, a fitting milestone as they rolled out a fresh, new look.

To achieve the complex process of rebranding, Cardinal wanted to revamp the company logo and vehicle wraps while integrating the company’s heritage with a modern twist. The final design features a patriotic red, white, and blue color scheme, symbolizing the company’s American roots and echoing the Cardinal name.

Implementing the new design was a significant investment, nearing $600,000, aimed at enhancing brand visibility and recognition. Nearly 50% of Cardinal’s fleet now sports the latest design, with ongoing efforts to complete the transition. Reflecting on the initiative's success, Keith Ouimette says that while the return on investment isn’t quantifiable on paper, the community’s response speaks volumes. Residents frequently recognize and appreciate the distinctively wrapped vehicles, reinforcing brand presence in the local market.

The standout elements of the fleet—its vibrant colors and friendly Cardinal logo—are more than just aesthetic enhancements. They are strategic tools that differentiate Cardinal from its competitors, capturing attention and fostering brand recall. 

The redesign has not only elevated Cardinal’s market presence but also bolstered internal pride and morale. Initial hesitation from some employees soon turned into enthusiastic support for the refreshed brand identity. Customers and employees alike have expressed overwhelming approval, often reporting the ubiquitous presence of Cardinal vans throughout the community.

The company’s strategic investments in branding and design are not just about looking good—they are about being visible and memorable in a crowded marketplace, driving forward with confidence into the future.

If feedback says it all, a comment captures the essence of the company when a friend told Keith Ouimette, “I can’t drive for five minutes without seeing a Cardinal van.” “We love hearing that,” Ouimette said. 

 photo

Kings Heating, Air & Electric Lynnwood, WA | 12 Vehicles

Kings Heating, Air & Electric, a family-owned business based in Lynnwood, WA, has been named a winner of the prestigious Tops In Trucks Design Contest. Founded in 1973 by the Pollard family, the company has been a staple in the community, providing exceptional HVAC and electrical services. Today, Erin, Gary, Michaela, and Josh Pollard run the company and continue to uphold the family legacy with dedication and innovation.

The company's fleet of 12 vehicles, including Chevy Silverados, Ford F-150s, Ford Transit Vans, and GMC Savana Vans, now sports a vibrant new look. Michaela Pollard, the Operations Manager, and her brother Josh led the collective design process as they took charge of creating a fresh, modern image with their rebranding initiative.

Michaela Pollard told us the creative process involved deep introspection about the company's identity and values. They made a final choice, selected through surveys of employees and customers, featuring bold, eye-catching colors and three jewels in the crown, symbolizing the three generations of the Pollard family involved in the business.

Implemented on Sept. 7, 2023, they currently feature the new design on three of their 12 vehicles. This change is part of a broader branding initiative that includes updating their website, employee merchandise, and even the company building’s signage. The investment of more than $50,000 into this campaign is already paying off, with first-quarter numbers showing a significant increase from the previous year and more customers reporting they found the company through their distinctive trucks.

Customer response to the new look has been overwhelmingly positive. “Our customers love our new brand! Many of our longtime customers said it looked awesome and some even asked for some of our company swag,” said Michaela Pollard. Initially, there was some hesitation among employees, but once they saw the design on company swag and vehicles, their excitement grew, and they proudly wear the new branding even in their personal time.

The standout element of their fleet design is the crown with three jewels, a subtle yet powerful nod to their family heritage and commitment to excellence. Unlike many competitors, Kings Heating, Air & Electric remains independently owned, a testament to their enduring dedication to quality and community. “The one element of our fleet design which not many know about is the three jewels in the crown representing three generations of family in the business,” Pollard said. 

“We take great pride in being third generation in our family-owned and -operated business. We are also one of the few HVAC & Electric companies in our area that a private investment company has not bought out.”

 photo 

Macawsome Heating and Cooling Ontario, CA | 5 Vehicles

Macawsome Heating and Cooling, led by CEO Maynor Gutierrez, has been named one of our three winners of our Tops In Trucks Fleet Design Contest Contest. Established in 2015 and based in Ontario, California, Macawsome has demonstrated exceptional creativity and strategic thinking in the design of its fleet of five vehicles, which has significantly enhanced its brand visibility and market presence.

Initially operating under the name My Air System with a modest visual identity, the company embarked on a transformative rebranding journey to change the visual image of the company. The rebranding process was deeply personal, drawing inspiration from the lifelong partnership of macaws to symbolize the enduring commitment between the company and its customers. The result was a vibrant new name, "Macawsome," blending 'macaw' and 'awesome,' which resonates with the values of loyalty and excellence.

The fleet showcases a striking color palette of deep blue, yellow, and orange, mirroring the beautiful California sunsets. These colors are not only eye-catching but are also symbolic of the warmth and energy that the company brings to every customer interaction. This choice of colors has proven effective, attracting attention from community members and even amusing children who mistook the brightly colored trucks for ice cream vans—a testament to their visual impact.

Implemented at the end of October 2023, this design overhaul cost $60,000 but has already started paying dividends. Transitioning from reliance on home warranty insurance leads to generating organic leads, Macawsome has seen a noticeable increase in customer engagement. This change is a significant marker of their successful rebranding and strategic marketing initiative.

Employees have embraced the new design enthusiastically, feeling proud to be part of what they refer to as their "flock." This sense of belonging and pride has not only boosted morale but also enhanced the way customers perceive and interact with the staff, fostering trust and a welcoming atmosphere.

The standout element of Macawsome’s fleet design is undoubtedly its bright colors accompanied by the tagline "Paradise in every room!" This slogan encapsulates their promise to deliver exceptional service, reinforcing their goal to stand out and make a lasting impression. Additionally, the macaw mascot underscores the family-oriented nature of the business, making the brand approachable and memorable.

Reflecting on the journey, Maynor Gutierrez said that if he were to do anything differently, it would simply be to have embarked on this rebranding initiative sooner. The success of their campaign not only justifies their victory in the Tops In Trucks Fleet Design Contest but also highlights the importance of aligning business operations with powerful, cohesive branding that communicates a company's core values and mission to its community.

RUNNERS UP   photo 

Affordable Air Experts Greer, SC | 3 vehicles

Founded in 2017 by James Weeks, Affordable Air Experts prides itself on delivering high-quality air conditioning and heating services. It has distinguished itself through an innovative approach to fleet design, which played a crucial role in the Greer, SC-based company’s recent runner-up finish in our Tops in Trucks Fleet Design Contest.

The company's fleet comprises three vehicles, with a fourth on the way, including a Dodge Promaster Highroof, a Nissan NV1500, and a Dodge Ram 1500. The idea for the fleet’s unique design originated from Weeks' collaboration with graphic artist Mary Sarlo-Carmichael. They chose a striking color scheme of red and blue set against black vehicles, ensuring the designs are both bold and elegant without being ostentatious.

This choice of colors was intentional; red represents heat, and blue signifies cold, colors typically used in the HVAC industry but often lost in a sea of similar designs. By using a black background, Affordable Air Experts’ vehicles make a memorable impression that is both sophisticated and noticeable from a distance. 

The company invested between $8,000 and $10,000 in its fleet marketing campaign. This investment has paid off, not just in compliments from locals and peers but also in tangible business inquiries and customer interactions. 

Employee feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with staff appreciating the modern and professional look of their vehicles. 

“We are a small family-run business; we rely solely on word of mouth, and it has done us a great justice,” Weeks told us.  “It was actually another contractor I spoke with who said, ‘Man, you should enter your work trucks into the wrap contest in HVACR Business.’

“I have gotten this email many times and never took the step, figuring we are a small fish in a very large pond, but this year, I took the step. … We are just as good if not better than  our competitors, and our trucks/vans represent the care and class we provide day in and day out. We stand out in our field even though we are small.” 

photo   All Weather Heating & Cooling Copiague, NY | 20 Vehicles

All Weather Heating & Cooling, a family-owned business founded in 1969, recently achieved a remarkable milestone by being named runner-up in our Tops In Trucks Fleet Design Contest. With its fleet of 20 vehicles, including Ford Transit T250s and Ford E350s, the company has embraced a new design that resonates deeply with its dual focus on residential and commercial services.

Located in Copiague, NY, All Weather underwent a significant rebranding in January 2023. The rebrand aimed to rectify a common misconception about the company's market focus due to its name and previous vehicle wraps. The redesign centered around a lighthouse theme, symbolizing guidance and reliability, aptly reflecting the company's long-standing service on Long Island.

CEO James Stone, who has spearheaded the company since its inception, worked to bring this vision to life. The new fleet design features eye-catching, comforting colors chosen to stand out and foster a sense of warmth among the local community. “I love how the lighthouse makes customers feel like home here on Long Island,” Stone told us.  “I also think the city line with the houses in front gives the perception that we handle both residential and commercial and none of our competitors' truck wraps have that.”

This initiative was part of a broader company branding campaign that cost around $150,000 but proved its worth by generating substantial returns. Within just 12 months of the new design's implementation, All Weather saw an increase of $600,000 in revenue—a 10% growth attributed to the new branding. Moreover, the fleet itself directly brought in $67,000 from 12 leads, underscoring the effectiveness of the vehicles as mobile billboards.

Employees and customers alike have enthusiastically embraced the new design. Workers report feeling proud to represent the company. At the same time, customers have increased their engagement, drawn in by the comforting imagery of the lighthouse and the skyline, which distinctly highlights All Weather's residential and commercial capabilities.

The success story of All Weather Heating & Cooling's fleet design is a testament to the power of thoughtful branding and customer connection, making them a standout contender in the industry and a beacon of comfort on Long Island.  photo

Great Bison Heating & Cooling Newfane, NY | 2 Vehicles

Great Bison Heating and Cooling, based in Newfane, New York, has achieved a significant milestone by winning a runner-up spot in our Tops in Trucks Fleet Design Contest. Owned by Chris Neal, the company has been making waves with its innovative and eye-catching fleet design.

The company’s fleet, consisting of a 2018 Nissan NV2000 and a 2017 Chevy Box truck, features a vibrant and unique design that stands out in the HVAC industry. The idea for this striking fleet design was born out of Chris Neal’s extensive research into branding. Neal’s vision was to create a brand identity centered around the Bison, symbolizing strength and resilience, which resonates deeply with the local culture near Buffalo, NY.

The creative process for the fleet design involved collaboration with multiple experts. A local wrap shop, Streamline Designs, made the final touches, resulting in a fleet that is both visually appealing and professionally executed. The company chose a distinctive color palette of blues and greens to differentiate themselves from the conventional red, white, blue, and orange seen in the industry.

Since the implementation of the new design in October 2023, both vehicles have been fully wrapped, marking the beginning of a larger branding initiative for Great Bison Heating and Cooling. The investment of approximately $30,000 in the fleet marketing campaign is already yielding positive feedback from customers and the community. The new design has not only attracted attention but also garnered compliments at job sites, highlighting its effectiveness in making the company’s trucks easily recognizable.

Neal attributes the success of the fleet design to the collective effort and determination to overcome challenges. The design process, which faced several obstacles, mirrors the resilience of a bison walking headfirst through a storm. This achievement signifies a major shift in Great Bison’s operations, highlighting their commitment to innovation and excellence in the HVAC industry. 

HONORABLE MENTIONS  photo 

Climate Experts Air Plumbing & Electric Melbourne, FL | 21 Vehicles

If you see a penguin on a truck in Florida, odds are it belongs to Climate Experts, which has contributed to their winning honorable mention in our Tops In Trucks Fleet Design Contest. The company’s fleet consists of a diverse range of 21 vehicles, including Nissan NV 2500s, Mercedes Sprinters, Ford Transit 250s, Hyundai Santa Cruz, Kia Souls, Chevy Box Trucks, Nissan Titans, a Nissan Frontier, a Ford Maverick, and a Nissan NV200. Each vehicle plays a crucial role in their operations, and the fleet design ensures they all stand out on the road.

 The idea for their fleet design originated with owner Derek Cormier, CEO,  and would eventually be redesigned three times to reflect their growth and evolution. The centerpiece of the design is Chilly the Penguin, a friendly yet muscular character equipped with a tool belt and a wrench, who looks like a friendly tech.  Chilly’s cartoonish appearance appeals to the child in everyone, reminiscent of a beloved Disney character, making the fleet memorable and approachable, according to Cormier.

 The company carefully selected its colors: royal blue for air conditioning, teal for plumbing, and yellow for electrical services, representing lightning. These colors not only represent their services but also create a striking visual impact. 

Implemented in 2023, Climate Experts have applied this design to eight vehicles in their fleet. It is now a part of a larger rebranding initiative as they expand their services to include plumbing and electrical work alongside their HVAC offerings. The investment of $50,000 into their fleet marketing campaign has proven worthwhile, with customers frequently calling in after spotting their vibrant vans. While tracking exact ROI is challenging, the positive feedback from customers and the increased brand recognition are clear indicators of success, according to Cormier.  

Employees have also embraced the new design, feeling a heightened sense of professionalism and pride in working for a company with a strong, recognizable brand. What helps the brand to pop are the bright, unique colors and the simplicity of the wrap, combined with Chilly the Penguin, helping them stand out from competitors in their area.

Their journey has led them to create an outstanding fleet wrap that customers recognize in their service area. The design, born from in-house and a hands-on approach, differentiates them from cookie-cutter brands they compete against and sets them apart with the Chilly the Penguin rolling through their territory. 

  photo 

OLD COAST HVAC Savannah, GA | 11 Vehicles

Old Coast HVAC, a Savannah-based company, received an honorable mention in our 2024 Tops In Trucks Fleet Design Contest, showcasing their novel approach to fleet design. Founded by Zachary Friedman, Old Coast HVAC has a diverse fleet, including several Ford Transit and Mercedes-Benz Sprinters models, for a total of 11 vehicles sporting innovative design.

During October and November 2023, Old Coast HVAC unveiled a new vehicle wrap design to refresh the company's branding. The design process was a strategic endeavor that spanned more than a year and a half, during which the company explored various concepts that would reflect its mission and local Savannah environment. The result is a captivating fleet design that stands out with a unique blend of colors that resonate with the local scenery, particularly the purple hues that represent relaxation and the beauty of a sunset over the marshlands.

It wasn’t easy but owner Zachary Friedman said, “We dedicated a year and a half to investigating different avenues, aiming to find ones that alighted our company and reflected our mission and locale. Friedman chose the color scheme based on his favorite color, purple, and selected complementary colors that would harmonize well with the local surroundings and create a memorable visual impact. This meticulous attention to detail is part of a larger branding initiative that predates the fleet design.

The investment in the fleet’s visual appeal has paid off. Since the implementation of the new design, Old Coast HVAC has noted a significant increase in call volume and positive customer feedback. Customers have expressed their appreciation for the aesthetic of the vehicles, which matches the company's uniforms, enhancing brand consistency and recognition.

Employees have also embraced the modern design, which has fostered a sense of pride and unity within the company. The design not only captures the essence of the local environment but also sets Old Coast HVAC apart from competitors by offering a visual story that complements their service quality.

Old Coast HVAC’s approach to fleet design exemplifies how thoughtful branding and design can enhance business visibility and community connection, making their vehicles not just a means of transportation but a significant part of their marketing strategy.  photo

Quality Comfort Air Conditioning and Heating Inc. Melbourne, FL | 5 Vehicles

Quality Comfort Air Conditioning and Heating Inc., under the visionary leadership of President Sol Goodwin, recently clinched a well-earned honorable mention in our 2024 Tops In Trucks Fleet Design Contest showcasing their cutting edge fleet design. Founded in 2005 and located in Melbourne, Florida, the company specializes in providing top-notch HVAC services, as reflected in their unique fleet of five vehicles, including Dodge Ram and Chevy trucks, all adorned with eye-catching wraps.

The idea behind the fleet's vibrant design originated from a desire to evolve from their original 2005 graphics while maintaining iconic elements like their cartoonized iguana and polar bear characters. These characters, representing the warm and cool aspects of their services, and are particularly symbolic of Florida’s climate. The design refresh introduced in 2023 incorporates vivid orange and green colors, a strategic choice by Goodwin to ensure the vehicles stand out in a sea of common reds and blues typical in HVAC branding.

Quality Comfort Air executed the contemporary design in collaboration with a design firm, which helped modernize the characters and layout. The $60,000 investment in the fleet's wrapping not only enhanced the visual appeal but has also significantly boosted the company's market visibility, leading to increased customer engagement and compliments from various stakeholders. 

“We have had more compliments from customers, vendors and competitors,” Goodwin said. “Standing out increases visibility, which created a brand that is recognized and promoted additional revenue from a new customer base.”

Employees of Quality Comfort Air Conditioning and Heating Inc. are excited about the new design, which they believe heralds a promising future for the company. Goodwin notes that the distinctive color scheme and characters are not just aesthetically pleasing but are crucial in differentiating the company from competitors. He jokingly told us that, "We can be seen from space."

  photo 

Trademasters Heating and Cooling Swansboro, NC | 3 Vehicles

Trademasters Heating & Cooling, founded in 2020 by Joey Urban, recently garnered an honorable mention in our 2024 Tops In Trucks Fleet Design Contest. With a fleet comprising three Ford Transits, the company developed a distinctive branding that stands out from conventional HVAC service designs.

The design process began with a clear vision from Joey Urban to avoid the traditional red, white, and blue color style that seems so familiar in the industry. Instead, he sought to incorporate unique colors to set Trademasters apart from the competition, searching for a visual design that was both unique and reflective of the company's ethos.

Implemented in 2023, the new design adorns two of the three fleet vehicles, showcasing a blend of modern aesthetics and old-school craftsmanship. This design not only reflects the company's commitment to quality and reliability but also enhances community engagement and customer relations. Customers have responded positively to the design, praising its high standards and professional appearance, which they feel reflects the company's dedication to superior service.

Employees have also embraced the new fleet design enthusiastically, further solidifying the company's identity and boosting its attractiveness to potential hires. The design emphasizes Trademasters' dedication to craftsmanship, with a tagline that reads, "Some Were Made For The Trades," paired with imagery that conveys quality, professionalism, reliability, and excellence.

This initiative is not just about aesthetics; it's a strategic part of Trademasters' broader branding efforts. Despite being a relatively young company, Trademasters has invested significantly in its fleet marketing, which Joey Urban sees as a critical component of the company's strategy for sustainable growth. He attributes a tangible return on this investment to the enhanced community presence and the foundation of lasting relationships it fosters.

The new imagery has even served as a recruiting tool. “We’ve received inquiries from potential candidates, and when you hear comments like, ‘a company that takes pride in their image is a company I want to work for,’ you know you're doing something right,” Urban said.

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