The U.S. Marine Corps is looking for a few good trucks

They found some at Trans Pro Express Trucking Co. Temporarily located in Gentry, the company will move its offices to Watts, Okla., next week.

According to Keith Wilmoth of Trans Pro Express, the company is participating as part of a new recruiting program for the USMC.

In the past, billboards were used for recruitment advertising, but billboard advertising is expensive, and ads must be replaced frequently. The USMC came up with a plan to use vinyl wraps with graphics displaying Marine themes and information on the sides and rear of semitrailers. “We started in August working with the Marine Corps. We didn’t know if we would be selected for this,” Wilmoth said. “They said they would let us know the first of December if we’d been chosen.”

According to Wilmoth, the USMC was looking for companies with newer equipment. Trans Pro Express was started one year ago as a joint venture between Keith Wilmoth and Lewis Wilmoth. Keith Wilmoth handles running the trucking venture. Lewis Wilmoth and his wife, Jodie, own Phase 1 Turnkey, a contracting business which frequently handles Gentry city contracts.
US Marine Corps US Marine Corps

Second, they were looking for 53-foot refrigeration trailers on which to display the wraps. The USMC also wanted companies with former Marines in management to make sure the trucks and wraps were kept up properly. Keith Wilmoth is a former Marine.

Keith Wilmoth said Trans Pro Express was notified they’d been chosen Dec. 2.

The company will have nine of the wrappers, which are being applied to the trailers by a firm in Tulsa, Okla. The wrappers will last at least two years. The USMC hopes to eventually have 2,000 trailers with the message on the road, Keith Wilmoth said. Seven of the nine Trans Pro Express trailers have already been wrapped.

Trans Pro Express had some of the first trucks to be wrapped. The response to them has been phenomenal, Keith Wilmoth said. “It’s amazing — you wouldn’t believe the comments we’ve had. Right after we started, we had a driver who went to California and he had four people stop him between here and Amarillo (Texas) wanting to look at it and take pictures,” he said. “The response from everyone has just been tremendous.”

Lewis Wilmoth said he’s excited about the advertising campaign. “You know, the first question we always get asked is, ‘How much are they paying you?’ They’re not paying us anything — we’re doing it out of pride,” he said. “That’s when I quote John F. Kennedy — ‘ Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. ’” “We are very proud of the trucks,” Keith Wilmoth said. “I just can’t say enough about it, and our drivers are really proud of it.”

Commentary by David Savage

According to the Marine Corps the Tractor-Trailer truckside advertising initiative pamphlet, the goal for this project was threefold. The Marine Corps wanted to stimulate national awareness and interest in the Corps, save money over traditional advertising campaigns, and partner with with the trucking, freight and transportation industry to accomplish their goal.

Advertising is expensive, and national ads even more costly. By creating a partnership with the trucking industry and creating a larger-then-billboard ad that will travel past hundreds-of-thousands of people on the road every day the Marine Corps not only kept the cost down, but definitely achieve there goal of national awareness.

A fourth item the Marine Corps took advantage of is the simple, yet powerful feeling of camaraderie that has been captured in the adage, “Once a Marine, Always a Marine.” Networking is a simple tool that the Marine Corps could capitalize on in other areas as well.

Keeping the next venture in mind, perhaps the Marine Corps should try to keep tabs on the former Marines through surveys and reunions. The fierce loyalty and brotherhood that is instilled in all Marines during their training and subsequent duty is a force that could provide the Marine Corps with other options, especially with something as simple as advertising.

Works Cited

Original Article By Treena Harp Staff Writer, [email protected], The Benton County Daily Record

Published, Monday, January 13, 2003

ATA, American Trucking Association, October 9, 2002 press release, www.truckline.com

United States Marine Corps, www.usmc.mil