Convoy for Cure aims to raise awareness for cancer charities

West Side Transport launched trailer in August

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CEDAR RAPIDS — It’s easy to spot with its wrap — the covering around the outside of the trailer — which is a bright pink and displays a handful of ribbons representing various types of cancer.

Cedar Rapids-based West Side Transport recently has added the new trailer, with its colorful wrap, in hopes it will help raise funds for cancer charities in the community, in a campaign they call “Convoy for a Cure.”

West Side Transport hauls full trailers of products from its customers — PepsiCo, General Mills and International Paper Co., among others — to retailers that include Hy-Vee and Home Depot.

Launched on Aug. 23, the new, 53-foot Wabash trailer will be a part of West Side Transport’s fleet for a typical trailer lifetime of 10 to 12 years. The trailer has been on the road for about two weeks now, traveling as far as Pennsylvania.

A portion of the monthly revenue the trailer generates each month — which will be dependent on factors such as customer rates and fuel prices — will be collected and donated at the end of the year.

John Dalrymple, senior vice president and chief financial officer, said the company is likely to donate around $10,000 at the end of the one-year mark.

The idea for the trailer started with Sue Smith, director of driver services, as a sort of traveling billboard to raise awareness about cancer.

Smith said everyone within West Side Transport was on board.

“I don’t think you can meet anyone who hasn’t been affected or doesn’t know someone, be it friend, family or co-worker,” Smith said.

However, after the idea got off the ground in December and fundraising began in January for the custom-made wrap around the trailer, Smith said they were challenged by Chief Operating Officer Ron Joseph to “do more.”

Organizers opted to raise funds for the cost of a new $28,000 trailer as well as a wrap. Through various fundraising events within the company, such as raffles, bake sales and bowling events, West Side Transport raised more than $31,000 by the end of July.

Smith said the goal is to keep the trailer moving constantly and as far out of Cedar Rapids as possible. To accomplish this, Smith said operators are coordinating with customers to find the farthest routes.

West Side Transport has “grown from a single tractor and trailer to today (when) we have over 500 tractors and approximately 2,000 trailers,” Dalrymple said.

The company was founded in the early 1970s by Don Vogt, CEO and president, after he and his father would clean up spilled grain from Cedar Rapids railroad yards. Today, the company employs around 700 — more than 500 of whom are drivers — and made about $100 million in revenue this past year.

The company has five fleet operating areas, including Indianapolis, Ind., St. Paul, Minn., and Glenwood, Ill. The latest terminal opened this past year in Columbus.

West Side Transport is beginning the process of moving into a new headquarters at a company fuel lot south of Cedar Rapids next to Interstate 380, on Sixth Street SW between Walford and Tharp roads. Dalrymple estimated the new headquarters could cost as much as $20 million.

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