ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — Pink ribbons in support of breast cancer research are a common sight today, but one southern British Columbia trucking company has upped the ribbon ante substantially, painting a whole truck in the colour as a way to raise awareness for cancer research.
But Doug Sutherland, vice-president and general manager of the family-owned Sutco Transportation Specialists of Salmo, B.C., is quick to point out that, while the truck does look like a rolling advertisement for the fight against breast cancer, its focus is actually broader than that.
Sutco’s new Pink Power truck pictured with v.p and g.m. Doug Sutherland.
“Everybody’s affected by cancer,” Sutherland told Truck West during an interview at the 2014 Truxpo exposition in Abbottsford, noting that his Dad, Robert, is currently fighting oral cancer after having beaten prostate cancer two years ago – an illness that also cost Doug’s father-in-law his life three years ago. “Everyone’s got the same story and everyone’s affected the same way,” he said.
Hence the brand new 2015 Kenworth T680 Sutco calls Pink Power, the idea for which came after Sutherland saw a similar truck featured in a magazine – except he wanted to do more than just raise awareness for cancers that affect females.
“Everyone looks at (the truck) and they think it’s breast cancer-focused but it’s not only that – it’s all cancers,” he said, noting that “we’re going to change the slogans on the side of our trailer as the year goes on – we’ll put a massive mustache across it during November and we’ll change the ribbon in certain months.” One thing Sutherland said that won’t change, however, is its slogan “Driving Towards a Cure,” which they’ll keep on the trailer all the time.
As a rolling awareness-raising billboard, Pink Power should stand out from the crowd, including the company’s other trucks.
“We have a fleet of green trucks,” Sutherland said, “so it sticks out everywhere, especially (with) people who know our company – and it gives an opportunity for our drivers to talk about getting tested, whether it’s breast cancer or prostate cancer, no matter what it is – get tested. My father-in-law would still be here today if he would’ve been tested earlier.”
And while raising awareness may be a laudable goal in its own right, Sutco is going beyond that, using Pink Power as a fundraising tool for the Canadian Cancer Society as well.
“Chris (Sutherland), being the president of the company and being a founder, has great relationships,” Sutherland said. “He stepped up, reached out to 10 corporate sponsors and nine of them were in immediately, agreeing to contribute a penny for every single kilometre that we put on that truck.”
He estimates the truck will raise about $70,000 for cancer over the next three years.
“For a little company, we’re just over 70 trucks now, 140 employees, to be able to raise $70,000 for cancer over three years is awesome,” he said. “As a company and as a family, our team, everyone is excited about it, everyone who has seen (the truck) through our Facebook or whatever has said it’s just awesome. You work hard to move people and try to do things with the company, and when you get it right you know you got it right because that feedback comes back. It’s quite amazing.”
Sutherland said the initiative is part of Sutco’s commitment to social responsibility, a pledge that also included embracing LNG as a way to help reduce greenhouse gases.
“As a company, we have seven commitments – like anyone has a mission statement or aims – and one of those is our social responsibility, what are we doing to make a difference?” He noted that Sutco has done the Relay for Life and Movember each year but, “those are events that last a few weeks and cancer is not just an event – it doesn’t just go away, it’s all year round. And this truck doesn’t stop; it runs all year round and is going to generate money for three years.”
That said, Sutherland doesn’t think the truck will return to the company’s more common green livery at the end of the scheduled three years.
“I believe it’s something that will never leave our fleet now,” he said. “We’ll continue to have a pink truck, we’ll continue to generate money.” They’ll also give the current sponsors a chance to re-up at the end of the three years. “This is the just first round,” he said.
Pink Power hadn’t gone into service yet when it was premiered at Truxpo, but Sutherland said it was going to be hitting the road soon after.
“It’s been in one event, the pride parade in Nelson,” he said, “but we didn’t have our sponsor decals yet, so (Truxpo) is our real debut and it goes to work next week, hauling residual wood and generating revenue for cancer research.”
And it’ll be hauling its stuff proclaiming proudly the sponsorship Sutco has received from Atco Wood Products, Inland Kenworth/Parker Pacific, Interfor, Kal Tire, Kenworth, Magnum, Tolko, Tycrop, and Zellstoff Celgar.
Pink Power will travel the Kootenays, Okanagan and Lower Mainland areas of B.C., as well as crossing the 49th parallel into the United States, serving northern Montana, Idaho and Washington states.
“We really want to span as far as we can,” Sutherland said. “It’s awareness and we’re no different than anyone else. All our families are affected from cancer and the more we can do, the less people that have to go through that, the better. Especially since it can be beaten if you get it early.”
He told of watching what his wife went through losing her Dad, noting “it didn’t have to happen. There are certain things in life, there are certain diseases that can’t be beaten once you have them, but cancer’s not one of them if you get it at the right time.”