Ranshaw Plumbing & Heating President Rick Bonelli started with the family-owned company as a teenager, working while attending high school and college. After graduating college in 1978, Bonelli began to take on more responsibilities at the company, eventually receiving his New York City Master Plumber’s license.
Now with 60 employees and 20-plus vehicles, the Whitestone, N.Y.-based company covers the NYC boroughs of Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan, as well as western Nassau County on Long Island. Widely known in the area for its residential and commercial work in heating and fuel oil, the company wanted to inform customers of other parts of its business.
“We’ve been doing plumbing longer than we have been doing oil and we wanted to create an advertisement or some kind of character on this truck that would catch people’s eyes,” Bonelli says.
With the help of JMR Graphics, based in Central Islip, N.Y., Bonelli and his team got together to decide what the new wrap would look like. “We took the basic design of the lettering with all our trucks, but we wanted to have more of a pop,” Bonelli explains. “We put a lot of characters together, asked people what their opinion was and narrowed it down to the Hero character. We also asked around about different slogans — ‘Don’t be a hero, call one’ is the one we liked the best.”
The new design is featured exclusively on one model; a 2011 Mercedes Sprinter pictured above. Additional trucks are to follow. “I love the Sprinter,” says Hing Lai, plumber for Ranshaw. “It is truly the ideal vehicle. The one I’m using now is a 3500 Freightliner series with a high roof. You can stand up inside.”
Along with the new wrap, the Sprinter underwent an interior redesign as well. Lai, a former carpenter, received permission from Bonelli to install a whole new shelving system engineered, designed and built by Lai. It utilizes 45 50-caliber ammo cans for storage bins and has 42 in. of aisle clearance inside.
The interior, a great example of American craftsmanship, was done after hours during the week and on the weekends; it took 206 hrs. to complete. “It was my goal to maximize the interior and fit as much stuff as possible on the walls and on the shelves to keep everything off the floor,” Lai explains.
Bonelli adds: “The other great thing about the Sprinter is if he takes anyone with him to help him, everything is labeled. Anybody could find anything and put things away in their proper place, without asking any questions.”
The van has become well-known in the New York area among other plumbers and warehouse staff. “Every time I go to the plumbing supply house in Bayside, the guy behind the counter — who we’ve known for many years — always asks for my keys and goes out to show off the inside to all the other plumbers,” Lai says. “They all climb inside and whip out their phones and start taking pictures and videos.
“The goal is to make sure you work like a gentleman. Having a neat, well-organized truck, fully equipped on the spot with the right tools and supplies helps us accomplish this. After all, the inside is a reflection of the type of work you do.”