Going (old-school) mobile to deliver your message

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Looking for more bang for your buck with advertising dollars? TruckSkin turns a fleet or single vehicle into a mobile ad or billboard that can last for 10 years.

Developed by Joseph Lapekas in Traverse City, Mich., the heavy duty vinyl sheets are easily attached to the sides or doors of everything from vans to tractor-trailers.

Lapekas and a friend in graphic design developed the idea 13 years ago when Lapekas wanted to get out of the auto salvage business. They experimented with banners for trucks and then decided to try covering the entire side of a tractor-trailer with vinyl graphics.

After a TruckSkin high resolution vinyl siding is printed, it attaches to the side of a truck with metal rails on the top and bottom of a trailer. The rails are a patented design.

“Your ad goes everywhere you go,” Lapekas said. “They outlast regular ads.”

Lapekas said the vinyl ads are more cost effective than traditional advertising, with a price of around 77 cents per thousand views.

A TruckSkin for a 53-foot trailer is roughly $4,600. Smaller box trucks can be covered for $2,000 to $4,000.

Customers can provide their own artwork, or Lapekas will develop the graphics.

Once an order is placed, it takes about six days to print and deliver. Installation can be done by the buyer with a few simple tools.

The metal rails are installed on the top, bottom and ends of a trailer side, and the vinyl is then attached to the rails.

Lapekas said the advertising message is easily switched when several vinyl applications are purchased.

The vinyl graphics protect vehicle paint, don’t have leftover marks from removed decals and can be washed without damage.

Lapekas has customers in all 50 states and has done business with companies from Canada, Central America and Japan. He’s contemplating opening franchises but isn’t sure he wants to go that route.

He has competition from several American companies: Epic Media Group in Los Angeles, MV Graphics in Suwanee, Ga., and Advertising Trucks in Cincinnati.

In addition to the TruckSkin line, Lapekas does vinyl wraps for vans, small trucks and door and window displays. Another specialty is the rear side of tractor-trailers.

“We can cover almost anything but cars. The rail system doesn’t work because of the curved shape,” said Jordan Lapekas, Lapekas’ daughter and marketing director. “Instead we use an all-adhesive system for them.”

His latest venture is adding text message information to TruckSkins.

By adding graphics that might read “Text SAVE to 76453 for a 25 percent discount,” a customer can get concrete results. When someone types the keyword SAVE to the short code 76453 he will, in response, receive an instant message explaining how to take advantage of the offer at your retail location.

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