Get milk

June 1, 2007
Corporate image counts. Ask Swiss Valley Farms. The Midwestern dairy co-op has been using the same colorful mountain scene on its fleet of trailers for

Corporate image counts. Ask Swiss Valley Farms. The Midwestern dairy co-op has been using the same colorful mountain scene on its fleet of trailers for the past five years.

However, the company decided to change its trailer graphics to a design that is product specific after the marketing department completed a consumer research project in the spring of 2006. Out of all the advertising and marketing methods used by Swiss Valley Farms, including print, radio, television, billboards, and coupon ads, survey participants said the graphics on the trailers and coupon ads were the most significant to catch their attention.

“We decided to focus on the dairy product rather than the corporate identity anticipating that customers will buy more of our products,” says Ron Schroder, director of marketing. “If we can create an appealing environment for our products, customers will buy more of them.”

The idea came from one of the company executives who had seen trailers on the road with product-specific graphics. The new graphic design, including the photography, was produced in-house by a graphic artist. Signature Graphics in Porter, Indiana, produced the vinyl sheets for the co-op's 45-ft trailers.

“You can't directly measure marketing results of trailer graphics in the same manner as you can quantify how many ad coupons are redeemed by customers,” Schroder says. “But our trailers are used by beverage companies at a lot of community events, such as county fairs and air shows, to keep products refrigerated. For example, we always have a trailer parked at a running event in July, which pays out the largest non-marathon purse in the country. The race attracts about 18,000 runners.”

Fifteen trailers have been outfitted with the new graphics. These units will be extended in the fleet through the normal trailer replacement that averages 12 years, depending on service use.

The co-op also recently spec'd its fleet with aluminum wheels for a better image. Most of the tractors are daycabs. There are nine sleepers in the fleet for two-day trips.

About 75 company drivers move product with the fleet of 120 trailers to customers in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and the northern third of Missouri. Almost all of the deliveries are made from the milk bottling plant in Dubuque, Iowa, which processes and packages a wide array of products: white and chocolate milk, half & half, eggnog, orange juice, lemonade, and spring water.

Swiss Valley Farms donates its dairy products every month to a variety of community organizations — schools, churches, civic foundations, Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of the USA, American Cancer Society — to name a few. Cash For Caps, a program the company started in 1999, returned $50,000 in 2006 to local schools that redeemed caps from Swiss Valley Farms milk cartons.

Fleet logistics —

  • Swiss Valley Farms, 247 Research Parkway, Davenport IA, 52806
    Midwestern dairy co-op owned and controlled by dairy farmers. With eight plants in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, 700 company employees generate $425 million in annual sales serving markets in the Midwest.

Graphic service provider —

  • Signature Graphics, Inc, 1000 Signature Drive Porter, IN 46304

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