When we learned of the Honda opportunity in West Bend, Wisconsin, we knew that we wanted to develop a marketing platform that would allow us to engage with the local community. While Wisconsin is not a new market to us, the West Bend community is new for both Morrie’s and for Honda. As we brainstormed and came up with ideas, one rose to the top – Tiny Morrie’s Honda. The concept was seemingly simple – build a miniature dealership to use in the community during the months leading up to the opening of the actual dealership. Tiny Morrie’s Honda was the tiny before the big. A small look and something big to come.
It was nearly two years ago when we first discussed and created the Tiny Morrie’s Honda concept. At the time we created a scale model integrating Honda dealership design elements and developed a marketing plan around it. Many months thereafter we got the good news that we’d be moving forward with the new Honda dealership in West Bend. We then faced the challenge of bringing the Tiny Morrie’s Honda concept to reality. Despite its size, there was a lot of planning that went into the project.
The first step was finding a partner to build the trailer with. This proved a lot more difficult than we thought it would be. We initially reached out to Tiny House builders. Many were overwhelmed with existing projects due to the surge in interest in Tiny Houses. We did find a couple of builders who were interested, but as we furthered conversations it became clear that a build in the true tiny-house fashion would not work. The trailer would be way too heavy and too cumbersome to travel around Wisconsin. Back to the drawing board.
We shifted our focus to ice house and RV trailer manufacturers. We had a hard time finding a builder that could customize a trailer to fit out needs. After a couple months and at least two false starts we were worried that we’d never find a build partner. Then we shifted our focus. I suggested we reach out to the Aluminum Trailer Company, ATC for short, a manufacturer of toy haulers and racing trailers that have caught my eye at the race track and even at SEMA a couple years ago. ATC connected us with the local ATC representative, Toppers and Trailers Plus, and collaborated on the design.
It was exciting to finally find a partner who could help bring the Tiny Morrie’s Honda idea from concept to reality. We worked closely with ATC and Toppers and Trailers Plus to customize the build. There was no doubt that ATC could build a great trailer. The challenge, however, was building something that was true to the original concept – something that looked like a tiny dealership opposed to an enclosed box trailer. The key to making this happen was sourcing windows and doors that resembled those of a dealership. Whereas it was a big hurdle with the previous folks we worked with, ATC accommodated our window needs with ease.
In addition to the tiny dealership look, there were a number of other need-to-haves we wanted included on the trailer build. Notable features included:
- Fully insulated, heated and air conditioned
- Kitchenette with refrigerator, microwave, water heater and electrical for small appliances such as a coffee maker
- Wired for 120v throughout with dedicated generator
- 12v system with battery bank
- HDMI and antenna pre-wiring on each interior wall and both exterior side walls
- Garage area to store event supplies, tents and other marketing collateral
- Reinforced roof with observation deck
After some expected back and forth on spec tweaks we finalized our build plan. We locked in our order and were told the build would take roughly 10-weeks to move into production and get built. We eagerly anticipated the arrival of Tiny Morrie’s Honda like kids waiting to open gifts on Christmas morning. Fortunately, as soon as the trailer hit production we received photos and continued to receive them as the build progressed.
As the days passed we saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Then, on October 8thwe received confirmation and photo proof that the completed trailer had landed at Toppers and Trailers Plus location in Mankato.
Upon completion, Jessica, General Manager at Toppers and Trailers Plus, recapped the build:
We at Toppers and Trailers Plus feel very fortunate to have been involved in such a unique and exciting project. From the first rough sketches, to seeing the finished trailer wrapped, it was an adventure- worth all the time and effort. There is always something fulfilling about taking a drawing and turning it into a dream trailer.
One of the most exciting parts of the building process was watching the sketch come to life in a 3D drawing, made by the engineers from ATC. Once the trailer went into production, ATC communicated frequently, sending us pictures every step of the way.
Toppers and Trailers Plus is grateful that Morrie’s chose to support us, a local family owned business, to be involved in this amazing project. Working with Morrie’s Automotive Group was a great experience; we appreciate customers who are so involved and excited to see the end result. I cannot wait to see the trailer in action at one of Morrie’s many events.
We picked up the trailer later that week. We loved it. We were excited to put it to use, but before we could there was more work to do.
The public debut of Tiny Morrie’s Honda was scheduled for our groundbreaking event on November 1. That left three short weeks to:
- Apply the graphics and architectural elements that would transform the trailer from a big, white box to a miniature dealership on wheels
- Outfit the interior with furniture and electronics to actualize our vision of a mini, rolling work and presentation space
- Provision the trailer with supplies for events
- Transport and place the trailer on the build site in West Bend, Wisconsin.
Needless to say there was a lot of work to do in a short time. Did we get it done in time?
Stay tuned to see subsequent posts outlining the outfitting of Tiny Morrie’s Honda. Up next we’ll cover the exterior graphics process and working with Creative Color Studio.