We have a lot of cool recognition programs at CCJ, but I have a couple favorites.
I consider our Career Leadership Award without question the most important aspect of my job – a job that often feels like it encompasses billions of other important things.
Awarded annually, CCJ's Career Leadership Award recognizes a trucking maintenance professional for outstanding service in the field. Being able to tell that person's story and recognize them in front of their peers at an annual banquet in their honor at the Technology and Maintenance Council's big annual meeting is the highlight of my year.
But that's a story for another day (late February, actually).
My other favorite is CCJ's Five Flashiest Fleets.
It's a lot of fun to see how fleets approach their external marketing. It's also a nice break from having to hunt down news and relevant sources since these are sent directly to us by fleets.
We get a lot of submissions of trucks that don't feature wild artwork or paint or decal schemes; they're just a basic color – maybe a few colors. But they're bright and clean – and I mean spotless. You can say a lot about your company's professionalism by just showing up to a customer in a truck and trailer that is consistently clean and well maintained. That is a marketing strategy.
You can also say a lot about your company with a splashy paint job or decal kit.
We had an awesome group of Five Flashiest submissions this year, which is no surprise because we get awesome submissions every year. But this year one fleet in particular hit me in a way that one has never hit me before – and it wasn't even our overall top fleet.
The submissions from Santa Rosa, California-based Skikos Trucking made absolutely no sense. And they were fantastic. Camo patterns in various colors, cow spots, snake skin and whatever you imagine the in between is, there was a design scheme for it.
Bonnie Bryen, who handles design and implementation for the trucking company, said this all started to get owner Shad Skikos' young daughter Sailor involved in the company. It has snowballed since. The entire idea, and the complete abstractness of it, is incredible.
This is a design approach that I don't think ever would have crossed my mind, and there are a few design schemes that when I saw renderings for approval I would have spiked. Not because they're not well done but because I'm risk averse. You probably couldn't have pushed a gumball design by me. No way. But Skikos did it, and it looks really cool.
I hope there are a few takeaways from the Five Flashiest Fleet program, regardless of who your favorites are: 1) People don't have to understand your thought process to enjoy it. People rolling down the road don't have to know the backstory of the WWII spitfire truck to know it's cool. Take the risk. 2) A good design idea doesn't have to be cohesive. Do you know how many entries we get annually that are military themed but are branch specific? Tons. The Navy trucks don't look like the Army trucks, which don't look like the Coast Guard trucks and so on. Each truck becomes its own thing, and that's a good thing. 3) If you don't have an idea, pick a cause and support it. We get a lot of submissions that support local causes: autism or cancer awareness, for example. Are you passionate about animals? I'm sure your local shelter would love to see some adopt a pup or spay and neuter campaigns rolling through town.
Possibilities are only limited by a fleet's imagination, and if you get stuck, find a local kid and ask them for some design tips. Maybe you too will have a truck featuring a wolf howling at a full moon.