aBest Private Vehicle: Pioneer Carting Manhattan, N.Y. Pioneer Carting Corp. has painted murals on the sides of its trucks since the business opened in 1945. The murals are not only good advertisement, said John Florio, the company's president, but also are part of the family-owned business' tradition.
Because the majority of Pioneer's customers are exclusive, Manhattan restaurants and hotels, "they don't like to see an old, smelly garbage truck" arrive outside their buildings, Florio explained. "It's an image thing."
The designs suggest to customers that this is not just an average garbage company," said Florio.
The murals, painted by an artist named Chico, differ from previous works because they are air brushed with a non-toxic, easy-to-repair paint.
Aside from aesthetic appeal, Pioneer emphasizes the importance of a truck's engineering design and fuel economy. Florio hopes his trucks will someday average eight miles per gallon (mpg) in the city; the current average is 7.5 mpg.
Each mural on the company's four-truck fleet is different. This truck, a 1996 Freightliner, has a Heil 5000 body with a New York skyline motif and can carry up to 18 tons of refuse.
Best Public Vehicle: City of Baxley Baxley, Ga. Three years ago, in an at-tempt to improve the city's image, Baxley, Ga.'s public works supervisor, David Gore, decided it was time for the city to purchase a new, stylish gar-bage truck.
"We spent a lot of money and went through a lot of trouble to get this truck," said Gore, "so we wanted it to catch people's attention."
Baxley's public works department is the only refuse collection service in the city and provides service to approximately 3,000 customers.
Gore felt the city's residents deserved to have their refuse collected by a fancier vehicle. "We wanted something more than just a white truck," he said, "So we decorated the new one with the city's colors - red, white and blue - and its logo."
The city refers to itself as "Georgia's nuclear city" because a nuclear power plant operates within the city limits, he said.
This 1993 GMC truck has a Heil body and collects up to 14 tons of refuse per load. It runs five days a week, with two days reserved for residential customers and three for commercial.
As a result, the garbage collection service's image has im-proved. Gore concluded, "We've got more pride in what we do."
Best Front Loader: Star Carting Co. Garden City Park, N.Y. Stars and stripes forever came to General Manager Michael Bonsera's mind when Star Cart-ing Co. set out to choose an innovative design for its fleet's three front loading trucks.
Bonsera said he decided on a patriotic theme based on the company's motto, "Keep America Beautiful." Bonsera credits the eye-catching design and the maintenance of a clean fleet for Star Carting's improved image. "It makes the customers feel like they are dealing with a cleaner-cut outfit." Be-sides, he continued, "it's the 90s."
The company's 19 truck fleet services a 100 to 150 mile area within and around New York City.
Star Carting's front loading Mack truck has an EZ-Pak body and has been running for three years with its new design.
The trucks' "distinctive design" has generated additional business interest for Star Carting, he said.
Bonsera said he hopes to ex-pand his service area outside the New York City boroughs.
A commercial and industrial hauling service established in 1938, Star Carting claims ap-proximately 60 percent of the refuse hauling market in the Garden City Park, N.Y., area.
Best Rear Loader: City of Tacoma - Refuse Utility Tacoma, Wash. As part of its Tacoma CARES program, the city designated this truck to pick up trash and de-bris along its streets.
Because program directors wanted the "old garbage truck" to be noticed working within the community, they decided it needed a catchy, new design.
"We wanted the truck to be distinctive," said Debbie Tainer, Tacoma's service and complaints representative. "You can't miss it now - because it's gorgeous."
The "Blight Mobile" be-gan its work with the Tacoma CARES program in January 1995. The truck, with its "cleanup and revitalization efforts," runs five days a week throughout the city's dilapidated areas. The driver, "Blight Master Billy," and other community members take special pride in this program, Tainer said.
"We wanted the city to look better, and this is the way to go about it," she said. The "Blight Mobile" is there to clean up where needed.
This International truck has a Heil body and has an 18-cubic-yard box carrying capacity. As the primary refuse hauler since 1929, the city provides 170,000 residents with recycling and garbage collection services.
Best Tilt Frame: R&A Bender Inc. Pleasant Hall, Pa. "Drugs are garbage. You can't recycle your life," is a reminder that R&A Bender Inc. painted on the side of any truck that could accommodate it.
A garbage hauling business that began 48 years ago with only 15 customers, the family-owned-and-operated R&A now services 22,000 commercial and residential customers in Pleasant Hall, Pa., and its surrounding counties.
When considering a new design concept, R&A wanted its fleet to stand out from competitors, said Stephen Bender, the company's vice president. "We wanted our fleet to be noticed."
Bender is one of the five siblings who helps run the company with his parents, Richard and Alice.
"It is a mom-and-pop business," Bender said. "There are not too many of us little guys left anymore."
Because people associate garbage with dirtiness, image upkeep is difficult. A redesign can help alleviate this, he added.
R&A's 1996 Western Star truck, the tilt-frame winner, has a Rudco body and can hold 73,280 pounds.
Since the redesign, Bender said the drivers tend to take more pride in their trucks and wash and wax them regularly.
Best Recycling Vehicle: Sanipac Inc. Eugene, Ore. To generate greater interest in recycling, supervisors at Sanipac Inc. decided to create a program with a catchy circus theme.
With that in mind, the company developed the "Recycle Zoo."
Tim Gurr, the company's route supervisor, said, "Our unique truck theme is a fun way to get the community interested in recycling education."
The design has helped the company maintain a 70 percent recycling participation rate, and is recognized and associated with recycling throughout the community, he added.
When the truck is operating on the streets, residents recognize it and often ask questions concerning recycling, he said.
Sanipac opened in 1972 and began the "Recycle Zoo" program in 1985. As one of the area's larger haulers, Sanipac provides refuse and recycling collection to both commercial and residential areas in Lane County, Ore.
The Volvo FE recycling truck has a Kann body and a 33,000-pound gross vehicle weight. It is one of 20 recycling trucks in Sanipac's 66 truck fleet.
The company works to uphold its motto: "Being the biggest means nothing if you are not the best," Gurr said.
Best Side Loader: City of Cochran Cochran, Ga. When the city clerk first heard that Cochran's residential gar-bage truck had won as best side loader, he retorted, "So where's my check for a million bucks?"
Although there's no check in the mail, the City of Cochran is pleased to know it won, said Mayor George Porter.
Cochran, with a population of 5,000, has a four-truck fleet, two of which are back-ups. The contest winner, a 1994 Peterbilt side loader with a Heil body, is nicknamed the "one-armed bandit."
The "bandit" picks up the town's refuse three times a week and can carry up to 15 tons of refuse. One side loader advantage, according to Porter, is that it eliminates the need for workers to ride on the back of the truck. "We only need one or two people to operate this vehicle," he said.
Porter said he feels the fleet's new "sporty" design has influenced the drivers to take special pride in their trucks.
"This truck looks about as good as it did the day we brought it here, which is unusual for a garbage truck in our city," said City Clerk Jody Lucas.