There’s more to food truck wrapping than just the foil around your meal.
Brett Brand of the Fishtown-based company, Brands Imaging, is in the business of making food trucks look as appealing as the meals themselves. The company’s truck installments include the Burger Busz, Sushi Busz, Richie’s Lunch Box, Wingo Taco, Chris’s Taco Stand and Poi Dog. Brands Imaging also installed the custom wallpaper in Brock’s Wings and Things.
Dressed in tattoos and a congenial, forthright demeanor, Brand gets visibly excited when talking about his work, raising the volume of his voice and leaning forward.
While his office has a vintage Phillies print and a Phish poster, make no mistake about Brand – his passion is anything but laid back.
“I want to separate myself from other companies,” Brand said. “I want to be as emotional about my product as you are.”
Brand began in automobile repair, helping his father with his dent-removal business.
“Coupling all that with the idea that I always wanted to be some sort of an artist or whatever, this company was born,” Brand said. “It started out very tunnel-visioned.”
Brand said his company originally focused on custom wrapping for cars before moving to food trucks.
Juno Parks, the owner of the Busz trucks, was the first Temple-based client for Brand. Parks said although he would have received a cheaper price with another company, he knew Brand was the person he wanted to work with.
“He’s very professional – probably the most professional [person] I’ve spoke with from the other [graphic installment] vendors,” Parks said.
After Brand installed the wrapping on his Burger Busz, Parks consulted him again for his Sushi Busz truck.
“I was satisfied with his work, and I didn’t want to risk changing the vendor,” Parks said.
Brand said he likes the variety the job offers.
“It’s something different every day,” Brand said. “It’s the same truck or the same car, but it’s a completely different design and concept every day. When you run a business, you have the opportunity to kind of steer the ship a little bit. To accomplish more goals and to land larger accounts and do more creative projects is exciting.”
Brand’s projects are quickly expanding beyond the size of an 18-foot food truck. Brands Imaging is responsible for the custom wallpaper in Pearson and McGonigle halls, including the 90-foot image of Hooter in the basketball practice gym. The company’s work at the facility led to a job revamping the Miami Dolphins’ training facility.
While working on the Pearson and McGonigle job, Brand said he and his team showed a little love to former client Chris’s Taco Stand.
“His stuff was banging,” Brand said. “When we did that whole Temple job, we ate at Chris’s every day.”
Brand said the design of Chris’s Taco Stand went through a few incarnations before it reached its final stage. Brand said he makes it his personal mission to communicate with the client to nail down the exact vision.
“Even though it’s my business, that’s my job,” Brand said. “I try to speak to the customers, embody what they’re going for and translate that to my designers.”
Brands Imaging has two in-house designers/production employees who do graphic work for clients as part of the package.
“We’re more of a grassroots start-up,” Brand said. “We do 90 percent of this s— ourselves.”
Once the design is nailed down, it’s printed on 3M vinyl in 4-foot sections. Brands Imaging is one of three 3M-certified businesses in the state, meaning that its employees are sent to the headquarters in St. Paul, Minn., for training.
The vinyl sections are then laminated, which makes them weather, abrasion and graffiti resistant. Four installers make sure the sections are lined up before peeling off a paper backing, creating what resembles an oversized sticker.
The vinyl sections can be tacked and re-tacked onto the truck. Installers relax the heat-activated vinyl with blowtorches before smoothing it with a tool that resembles a wallpaper smoother.
Brand said on average, he and his team have a truck in the shop for three days total. While the process sounds clear-cut, he said the variations in truck shapes make each project its own challenge. For example, a donut truck the team was working on had a large metal box on its side, which required relief cuts in the vinyl in order for the design to lay flat.
Brands Imaging will soon be moving from its current location on Front Street to a newer building on North American Street.
The company will gain an extra 500 feet and have a food truck commissary and shared kitchen in the back of the building.
Although food trucks have long been a city staple, shows like Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race” and Cooking Channel’s “Food Truck Revolution” are partially to thank for a recent boom in business, Brand said.
He also said Brands Imaging was recently approached to be filmed for a reality show based out of New York.
The recent success doesn’t seem to have gone to Brand’s head, though.
“I couldn’t do it without my crew,” Brand said. “It’s not just like, me, and them doing whatever. Everything here is a team effort. It takes two people to hold a tape measure. It takes two people to hold up a 20-foot piece of vinyl before you lay it.
I couldn’t sell anything if my designers didn’t design it yet. What I want people to understand about our company is that we have fun, and we’re awesome, close people.”
Jenelle Janci can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jenelley.