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HVACR Business Magazine Selects GEM’s New Truck Design To Win Tops In Trucks Fleet Design Contest!

The following article is an excerpt from HVACR Business Magazine June 2019 written by Pete Grasso.

HVACR Business Magazine - GEM Wins Tops in Trucks Fleet Design Contest

Whether your company is large or small, commercial or residential, one of the most important things you need to do is advertise. No matter the size of the business, all HVACR contractors face the same dilemma: How best to use those advertising and marketing dollars.

The not-so-secret secret to success many contractors have learned is to invest in an eye-catching, memorable design for their biggest asset — their fleet of vehicles. On the roads driving from job to job, parked at a call or at a technician’s home after hours, your trucks are seen by countless customers and potential customers every day.

“Remember that when potential customers see your vehicle, more than likely they’re in their own vehicle, so making your brand easily identifiable and your contact information easily readable is of the utmost importance,” says Joseph Kalinowski, creative director for the Content Marketing Institute.

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t use this vast amount of real estate to advertise your company and get your message out there.

And, throughout the years, more and more contractors are taking advantage of it and upping their game when it comes to bold, impactful designs that set them apart from the competition.

Now in its 13th year, our annual Tops in Trucks Fleet Design Contest pays tribute to those contractors who go above and beyond to set forth a positive, lasting impression of their companies and this industry.

“As you can see with this year’s finalists, there is a consistent theme: Bold colors, recognizable iconography and legibility were key to securing a top spot,” Kalinowski says. “Having a large, well-placed and recognizable logo is always key for any brand who advertises on outdoor media such as vehicles or outdoor signage such as billboards.”

The days of a fleet of white vans with the company name, phone number, and every possible service plastered on the side are going by the wayside as evidenced by the hundreds of entries we’ve seen over the years.

Marketing savvy contractors have dialed into the use of bold colors, impactful imagery, and only the most essential information on their trucks to put themselves top of mind when it comes to HVACR services in their market.

“What takes this year’s winners to the next level is the not just the icon placement, but their placement and ease of legibility of their contact information,” Kalinowski says.


GEM Plumbing & Heating Services | LINCOLN, RI – 175 VEHICLES


Founded in 1949 by Owner Larry Gemma’s father, GEM Plumbing & Heating Services is a family business that was ready for a fresh, new look to celebrate its 70th anniversary.

“We wanted something that was extremely bold, and that was going to show up … that you could see from anywhere,” Gemma says. “And that’s exactly the presence that it’s created in the Boston and Rhode Island markets.”

To come up with their bold, winning design, Gemma gave the task to Jenny Preservati, business development manager, and Jenn D’Ambra, vice president of operations. The pair took the mission very seriously and began with a lot of research.

“We actually started Googling images of different trucks and saving them in a Word document,” D’Ambra says. “Then we’d show them to different people around the office, as well as our technicians, and ask what they were drawn to.”

What they found, time after time, was that two trucks in particular kept catching the eye of everyone they surveyed. After digging a little further, they discovered that both those trucks were created by the same design firm: KickCharge Creative.

After contacting KickCharge, D’Ambra continued to do her due diligence on the truck design.

“KickCharge sent over two different color pallets,” she says. “I preferred one, but we decided to see which one would catch the eye of the public better.”

D’Ambra and Preservati took both color pallets to two different locations in their market and started surveying the public. Contrary to what they thought, the blue, yellow and orange combination won out nearly every time.

“It really drove home the idea that when you select a color combination for your company, you shouldn’t necessarily go with the one you like best,” D’Ambra says. “The idea is to choose something that might be a little uncomfortable, something people aren’t used to seeing, because that will grab their attention.”

With the color palette chosen, GEM went full steam ahead with KickCharge on the actual design of the truck and, eventually, a complete company rebranding.

“We did the trucks first, most importantly because that’s our best return on investment,” D’Ambra says. “The money we spent there is seen instantly, daily, with a fleet of about 150 wrapped vehicles.”

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