Truck calendar time comes ‘round again!

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The fun part is that you never know what kinds of trucks you’re going to find.” –Tom Schoening, marketing-communications manager for the Sioux City Truck Sales Peterbilt dealer group

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I always eagerly await the yearly calendar crafted by former newspaper-journalist-turned-truck-dealer-PR-man Tom Schoening, because he’s developed a true aesthetic sense of the artistic qualities both modern-day and classic iron embodies and puts it on display for all to see.

His work is again on display in the third such yearly calendar he’s created for Peterbilt dealer group edition of Sioux City Truck Sales (SCTS). The new 2012 calendar – dubbed Working Trucks of the Midwest – is available for free at SCTS three Iowa dealerships (Des Moines, Council Bluffs, and -- obviously -- Sioux City) and its lone Nebraska outpost (in Norfolk, to be precise) while supplies last.

Tom told me by phone that he really focuses on capturing images of “real working trucks” for SCTS’s calendar, using his hard-won shoe-leather reporting skills canvassing the company’s employees to glean tips on where some sharp looking iron might be found.

“I talk to the sales guys, the parts guys, and the technicians to find customers of ours that operate interesting equipment,” Tom explained to me by phone.

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The mix of equipment he looks at is very broad, too – from highway tractors down to vocational straight trucks – and so are the locations he uses as backdrops.

“I never really know what I’m going to find, nor what the location where the truck is located is like,” he told me. “For the Model 337 refuse truck in this year’s calendar, for example, I literally drove by this industrial site on my way to the customer’s home. It hit me right away that it made the perfect backdrop, so we headed for it as soon as met up.”

Tom noted that it takes him at minimum half an hour to complete a shoot, depending on how the initial location strikes him and the views he gets of the equipment.

“Sometimes, I’ll drive around a customer’s location for a bit to try and fit the type of truck to a background appropriate to the work it performs,” he said – especially for equipment destined to do agricultural work. “In a lot of cases, it’s all about being in the right place at the right time to get a great shooting locale.”

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Yet often the allure of a sharp backdrop can’t be denied, which is why he’s got a medium-duty dump truck in front of a football stadium in this year’s calendar.

The key with his calendar, Tom explained, is that it’s not focused on “chrome and bling” so much as trying to put the character of real working trucks on display.

For example, while a 1993 classic Peterbilt tractor “dressed” to the hilt is included in this year’s calendar, it’s also a vehicle still running a lot of miles day and day out hauling livestock.

“It’s about highlighting the goods and services trucks provide,” he told me. “That’s at the heart of why we put this calendar together every year.”

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