Representatives from Mike Albert Vehicle Fleet Management met with employees of The Hillman Group Inc. recently to unveil a customized vehicle designed to act as a rolling showroom for Hillman's products.

Hillman partnered with Mike Albert to create the vehicle, which measures 16-foot long and is built from a Ford E-450, in order to bring their entire product line to customers and trade shows.

Inside, the vehicle features walls of Hillman products arranged in drawers and on display, while track lighting adorns the ceiling. A fully operational computer terminal gives Hillman employees access to product information and a large flat-panel television is mounted to the front wall.

Hillman employees see great potential for the truck as a sales and marketing tool.

"This vehicle is really going to change the way we're able to present our products to our customers," said Bob Lyons, Hillman's director of Marketing. "The way it's been outfitted is amazing. We can pull into a tradeshow or a customer's office and we've got a fully functional showroom within a few moments."

Once parked, the vehicle's electronics run off a generator stowed below the floor; the generator's controls and hour meter are located on the computer terminal. To increase safety and visibility, a backup camera installed near the license plate displays in the truck's rearview mirror. A sonar sensor alerts the driver to overhangs that the vehicle may not be able to clear.

The outside of the vehicle, however, serves a purpose as important as the hardware on the inside. A custom wrap covers the truck's box, displaying Hillman's logo and products.

"The capability of a vehicle like this to optimize a company's brand image is a big selling point for our customers," said Dan Doucette, national truck lease manager for Mike Albert. "When you've got a truck that runs all over town, it's a rolling billboard for the organization. Not utilizing that space represents a missed opportunity in our eyes. And using a wrap is much more cost-effective and easier to maintain than a custom paint job."

Even the truck's cab, which appears to be painted Hillman green, is actually covered with a green wrap.

"It's much better at resale time to have a plain white truck," Doucette said. "By using the wraps, we can create any look the customer wants while still preserving the residual value."