Foster Farms Dairy Redesigns Fleet Markings

To increase sales in an expanding market, Foster Farms Dairy in Modesto, California, recently redesigned its corporate logo, packaging graphics, and fleet graphics.

Two new product lines-SMOOthies, a yogurt-based drink, and Cruisers flavored milk in single-serve bottles-have been launched. The products are aimed at a new generation of consumers. Foster Farms traditionally distributes to independent grocers and convenience stores in Northern California but is expanding its customer base to include mass merchandisers, grocery chains, and large foodservice accounts including major fast food chains.

"People associate companies with their brands, and we support brand positioning that represents convenience and high quality in a contemporary market," says Moya Semone, marketing manager for Foster Farms Dairy. "We want to be the dairy of tomorrow. Our new logo has a yellow sun shining above the company name and a farm scene with a barn and fields in blue, representing a new tomorrow, a fresh beginning. The logo is underscored with the tag line 'Source of All Things Good.'"

About 70% of the Foster Farms Dairy tractor and trailer fleet is outfitted with the new logo, Semone says. The dairy runs 68 tractors and 134 refrigerated trailers. The logo also is being installed on 68 refrigerated straight trucks.

Tractors are mostly Navistar International 9200i conventionals. The company has a mix of Utility and Trailmobile refrigerated trailers. Newer trailers from Trailmobile are equipped with Thermo King SB-III Magnum Whisper refrigeration units. Newer trucks are International 4900s with Johnson refrigerated bodies, 19 to 22 feet in length. These use holdover plate refrigeration from Dole.

"Fleet graphics are highly important," Semone says. "Trucks are moving billboards that increase consumer awareness of our brand and products."

Foster Farms Dairy has grown consistently over the years since it started business in 1939. The founder, Max Foster, bought an 80-acre dairy farm and began selling milk in glass bottles to homes and to grocers in the San Joaquin Valley. The company today is California's largest privately owned dairy, with $300 million in annual sales, Semone says.

Consumers Want Convenience Foster Farms' marketing campaign targets consumers living in a fast-paced world. "Consumers today want products that represent convenience," Semone says. "The single-serve Cruisers flavored milk product is for consumers who carry beverages with them on the go. Likewise, SMOOthies, a fruit and nonfat yogurt drink, has been well received by health-conscious consumers as a nutritious meal on the go."

Pedersen Gesk, a design firm in Minneapolis, Minnesota, produced a new package design for 12 different Foster Farms' product categories: milk, cottage cheese, sour cream, ice cream, juices, yogurt, water, butter, SMOOthies, eggs, frozen yogurt, and Cruisers flavored milk. "Each product category has a different design," Semone says. "However, all designs have a family connection. They all have similar colors and graphics with the same logo showing the yellow sun and blue barn."

Foster Farms relied on consumers to help develop ideas for the new logo. The dairy had some basic ideas, but initiated focus groups in 1997 for input from consumers. "We gathered information from consumers in different parts of California," she says. "A professional moderator conducted the groups, showing consumers boards with different renditions of the logo. The one we chose got the most positive consumer response."

Modagrafics in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, designed fleet markings using the logo, says Steve Traut, Northern California account executive for Modagrafics. Installers applied premium Avery vinyl decals on trailers in Modesto and on the first seven straight trucks in Benicia, California, a Foster Farms branch that concentrates on direct-store deliveries.

Also sporting the new logo is a gooseneck "Moo' Van for the Community" that Foster Farms uses for community charity events. The logo appears on the gooseneck. Behind it on the sidewalls are two removable posters advertising new products. Between the posters are hinged panels with decals of SMOOthies, Cruisers, and newly designed milk cartons. Raising the panels opens the van to the public. "We sell and sample products from a refrigerator inside the van, and hand out ballons and gifts to children," Semone says. "We give the profit to local charities."

New Fleet Equipment In addition to updating its logo, Foster Farms is replacing older equipment. "In the past three or four years, we've been purchasing new trucks, tractors, and trailers," says Ron Ridenour, fleet operations and safety manager. "We're putting the new graphics on all vehicles. Decals are installed on new equipment as soon as they are available. All existing trailers and trucks were repainted within the last 12 months in preparation for this graphics change. We have in-house shops in Modesto and Fresno where each piece of equipment is inspected thoroughly every 60 days."

With the help of its suppliers, Foster Farms is developing uniform equipment specifications and plans to replace tractors every five years, Ridenour adds. International 9200i tractors are powered by Cummins ISM-330 engines driving through Spicer PSO140-10D transmissions. Maximum highway speed is governed to 58 mph. "We are a safety-conscious company," Ridenour says.

The tractors were specified with driver comfort and safety in mind, says Glenn Peters, fleet maintenance supervisor in Modesto. They have powered and heated mirrors, digital readouts showing engine data, cruise control, CB radios, and air-ride suspension.

"Our drivers take pride in the appearance of their trucks," Peters says. "Many have assigned trucks, and they treat them as if they owned them. When drivers return from runs, they polish the chrome and clean out the cab using an air line coiled under the driver's seat."

The International 4900 trucks are powered with International DT466 engines rated at 230 hp and have Spicer 6 Plus transmissions.

Foster Farms recently purchased 36 Trailmobile trailers-all 48 footers except for one 53 feet long for ice cream delivery. Trailers are equipped with Thermo King SB-III Magnum Whisper Edition refrigeration units. They have two and a half inches of insulation in the sidewalls, three inches in the roof and floor, and four inches in the front wall. Trailers have Todco overhead rear doors with two and a half inches of insulation. They are equipped with Leyman 3,000-lb-capacity side lifts.

Seven Company Branches Foster Farms Dairy has plants in Modesto and Fresno for manufacturing fluid milk, juices, ice cream, and cultured products and branches in Hayward, Salinas, Benicia, Sacramento, Bakersfield, Sonora, and Paso Robles. Foster Farms Dairy also has authorized distributors that distribute product independently from plants and branches directly to customers.

Refrigerated straight trucks are used in branch operations, delivering to schools, grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants, and hospitals within a 40-mile radius of the branch. Older straight trucks have Thermo King refrigeration units. In recent years, however, Foster Farms has purchased trucks with eutectic plate refrigeration. "Cold plate systems are reliable and easy to maintain," Ridenour says.

Since 1997, Foster Farms Dairy has purchased 27 Johnson bodies, ranging in length from 19 to 22 feet. The FRP bodies are installed on new model International 4900 trucks. Most of the trucks have medium-temperature Dole Econo-Cel ECO11718 three-fan, plate blower systems with Copelametic compressors. Fans are controlled by a thermostat set at 34 degrees F.

New Johnson Bodies Five trucks have medium/low temp 22-ft bodies using two compressors and plate blower systems. The front 4-ft freezer compartment is equipped with three -21 degree F Dole plates plumbed to a scroll compressor. The front compartment is separated from the 18-ft cooler section by a solid bulkhead.

Medium/low temp bodies have five inches of insulation in the floor, roof, and front wall, four inches in the side walls of the low-temperature compartment, and three inches in the bulkhead, rear, and side walls of the medium-temperature compartment. The 46- by 74-inch-high, split-panel rear door has a 36-inch panel centered in the rear wall hinged to the curbside and a 10-inch panel hinged to the streetside.

Drivers reach ice cream through 24- by 60-inch doors set 12 inches back from the front wall on both sides of the body. Milk unloads through a curbside door 36 inches wide by 74 inches high, located 35 inches aft of the bulkhead. Curbside cooler doors on all trucks are served by Leyman Model STG 2100 Hide-a-Way 2,000-lb-capacity sidegates.

"Drivers can check temperatures from the cab by looking in the mirror," Ridenour says. "Two digital thermometers-one for each compartment-are mounted on the streetside front corner post."

With the new company logo, trucks, tractors, and trailers in the Foster Farms Dairy fleet have a neat, uniform look going down the road. "We want our fleet to look good," Ridenour says. "If it has our name on it, we want it to signify high quality."

The Foster Farms Dairy logo appears on two new product lines recently introduced-Cruisers, flavored milk in single-serve bottles, and SMOOthies, yogurt-based drinks.

[Top] A gooseneck "Moo' Van for the Community" promotes Foster Farms Dairy at community events. Products are sold through the van's concession windows. [Upper Middle] A 22-ft medium/low temp Johnson body has the new logo featuring a yellow sun shining above the company name and a blue farm scene. [Lower Middle] Modagrafics in Rolling Hills IL supplies premium Avery vinyl decals for tractors, trailers, and trucks. [Bottom] New Foster Farms Dairy tractors are Navistar International 9200i conventionals. Trailmobile refrigerated vans have Thermo King SB-III Magnum Whisper units with screw compressors.

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