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A Concrete Solution for Charities: Painting Their Fleet

Wed July 09, 2008 - Northeast Edition
James A. Merolla

Its fleet of trucks is not merely filled with concrete. It also is filled with a love of humanity.

Over the last several years, Tresca Brothers Sand & Gravel Inc., Millis, Mass., has been sending its trucks around greater Boston with the logos and contact information for charities painted on their drums. The trucks act as moving billboards, drawing attention to worthy causes.

Having a well-defined image for the company fleet is very important to Tresca Bros. Each specially designed truck represents a different organization, which fills the company with a special sense of pride and inspires high morale among its employees, who make an extra effort to keep the trucks immaculate so the logos are easily seen.

National Recognition

Tresca Bros. was awarded the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association’s first place paint and decal award in the 2007 Fleet Graphics competition, to be presented in March 2008, with a special commendation for “recognizing that an attractive fleet has a profound impact on your company’s and the industry’s image.”

“We didn’t get the award because of fancy paint jobs. We got it because they are all different charities. We don’t have 17 trucks painted the same. Every truck is different. There are no two trucks with the same charity,” said Peter Cakridas, Tresca Bros. fleet and safety director.

The concrete industry, however, was hardly the first to notice this most unusual fleet. Tresca Bros.’ varied and colorful trucks have created a buzz throughout Massachusetts and beyond.

According to Robert Tresca, vice president of the 88-year-old company, the special decals were first placed several years ago, beginning with the logos of the American Liver Foundation and the Buddy Dog Humane Society. Tresca was involved with both charities.

“I thought, if we put their charity logos and Web sites on the side of a few of our trucks, it might bring the charity some awareness,” said Tresca. “There was such a great response from everyone involved that the idea just took off.”

Soon, truck drums were up for auction. Tresca customers saw those first drums and asked if they could put their own personal charities on the sides of others. Then it got more personal.

“We had drivers with charities that were special to them who asked if we would put their charity on a truck,” added Tresca. “We even got involved with a few charities during their fundraising events.”

For instance, the Apple Orchard School in Newton was looking for donations to provide scholarships to needy families. Tresca Bros. offered to auction off the rights to put a charity on the side of one of the drums — at their expense. Apple Orchard School ended up getting a bid of thousands of dollars to help them with their scholarships, and Tresca put the school’s special charity logo on another drum.

“Many people got involved with this project but nobody put more of an effort into this than our nighttime security guard Jim Ellis,” said a proud Tresca. “Jim has been a rock in all of this.”

He is proudest, perhaps, of the influence that Tresca Bros.’ charity logo trucks have had on changing his very industry.

“Companies have occasionally used their mixer drums to honor sports teams or special events in their towns. But I don’t know of any other company that ever devoted their entire fleet to charity causes like we have. I’ve never seen trucks with charity messages before we started doing this,” said Tresca. “But lately, I’ve seen the idea start to catch on. I’ve seen charities on trucks in national magazines and I’ve seen another company in our area with a charity too. I hope this continues to build and other companies follow along.”

Over the last five years, Tresca has helped to raise public awareness for dozens of worthy causes including the American Liver Foundation, the Memory Ride For Alzheimer’s Research, the ALS Association of Massachusetts, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Scleroderma Foundation, the American Cancer Society, the Rose Fund, the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress, Miracle Flights for Kids, Dougies’s Team (Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism), Half the Sky Foundation (helping orphans in China), Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Smiling Kids Inc. (providing gifts for needy kids and teens in Mass.), the Meyer Family Trust Fund (helping people with orphan, or rare, cancers), the National Kidney Foundations Kidney Cars program, the Cape Cod Challenge Club, Best Buddies Massachusetts, the Boy Scouts of America and Click It or Ticket (sponsored by area police departments).

From Eyesores to Moving Art

The painted decals have made a staggering difference in how Tresca trucks are perceived, on and off the roads. Although loud, chugging trucks are usually considered an eyesore, Tresca trucks have become a curiosity driving down the highway.

“The difference in how you’re viewed by your neighbors is powerful. It used to be that people would say things like, ’I got stuck behind one of your trucks last week!’ Now, we hear about how they spotted one of our trucks and make sure they look to see which charity we’re displaying. I’ve actually come out of the CVS store down the street from us and have seen people wait for one of our trucks to go by, just to see what’s on the side of it. I’ve also overheard people at the coffee shop talking about how great a cause it is without them knowing who I was or that I was listening,” said Tresca.

People often smile when they see Tresca Bros.’ trucks; sometimes, they sob.

“One story that sticks out is when one of our trucks was delivering at a job site a few towns away. A woman from an office next to the site called our office to say her niece was involved with the Special Olympics and she just saw our truck with their logo and was so happy to see what we were doing, that she started to cry,” said Tresca. “I have seen, firsthand, the powerful emotional impact these trucks can have. So many times, someone whose life has been affected by one of the many charities that we promote feels a sense of relief and strength knowing others are aware and concerned for their situations.”

“On one of our mixers the charity is for the ’Meyer Family Trust Fund.’ The little boy [Christian Meyer] that is [pictured] on the truck actually came and saw the truck,” said Tresca employee Kim Patton. “He got a ride in it, also. There is also a trailer for neurofibromatosis. The little boy on that trailer also came to see the trailer that his image was on.”

One charity told Tresca that they play a game called “Spot the Truck.” They have members tell the charity when they’ve spotted their own logo. “They said they’ve gotten calls from so many different cities and were surprised their truck was in so many locations advertising their cause,” he added.

The stories about much of the fleet has been pulled over by the police are already legend. The drivers are pulled over not because they have violated the law, but because the officer in question wants to take a picture of the truck.

Thousands Spent, Thousands of Rewards

Such detailed work doesn’t come cheaply. The paint and logos costs thousands of dollars. There also are costs involved in maintaining the look of the massive vehicles.

“Also, when we put a charity on a truck, it will always be on one of our trucks. Even if the truck got in an accident, and we had to take it off the road, we would put that charity on the next truck we painted,” said Tresca. “It’s very important to us that we keep the charity trucks in excellent shape since they represent so much to so many. We feel an obligation to promote them with the highest care and respect.”

The rewards are many, for both the charitable organizations and Tresca employees. These rewards are expressed in the dozens of letters of thanks that pour in from various charities.

“Tresca Bros.’s support of the Memory Ride through your creative marketing idea is wonderful. Your painted truck enabled us to set these new records and further our mission to raise money for Alzheimer’s research,” wrote John and Donna Noonan of the Alzheimer’s Association.

“We appreciate everything you do, and we realize you incur an expense every time you provide the truck at one of our events, [so] we want to thank you and Tresca Bros. for the wonderful generosity you have shown us over the years,” reads another, from Marie Coyle and Tom Curran of the Scleroderma Foundation.

“It’s definitely worth it,” said Tresca. “Every person who works here feels more pride in what they do because of this cause. The surrounding towns all look at the company in a positive way too. It is quite a big difference in a company’s perception. With input from outside foundations, we can continue to make this unique and fulfilling project a success,” added Tresca. CEG

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