Tripp Wheeler is a new driver for his family’s trucking company, Wheeler Transport. For his first load, his father assigns him the responsibility of delivering ice cream to the nation’s birthday party in Washington, D.C. His dog by his side, Tripp navigates through industry norms like trailer breakdowns, heated driver discussions, dispatcher updates and coaching from his safety director.
This narrative resembles normal life in the transportation industry, and thanks to veterans Debbie Ruane Sparks and Linda Hagopian, children can experience it through the book series “Tripp Wheeler Adventures.”
Creation of 10-4 Good Buggy brand
The industry veterans met while working together at the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), Sparks as vice president of business development and Hagopian as a marketing consultant. Both were greatly impacted by the industry and its love for family, its patriotism, generosity and resilience.
Later in life, Sparks approached Hagopian about creating a product line for kids to teach them about the industry, and before Sparks could finish describing her ideas, Hagopian was sold. She had always wanted to use her marketing skills to help children, and this was the perfect outlet to make that dream a reality. Together, they created the 10-4 Good Buggy brand.
“Tripp Wheeler Adventures” book series
The first initiative they focused on was creating a children’s books series that portrayed the reality of what truck drivers and other transportation workers experienced, and more importantly, the skills that they develop during everyday problem solving. They began with the visuals and storyline of the “Tripp Wheeler Adventure” series but quickly realized the product would be much better if they developed the world and characters in which the book would take place.
In an interview with FreightWaves, Sparks and Hagopian were very proud of the characters they created for their first book, “The Red, White and Blue Party: Tripp Wheeler Adventures”. From Detour, Tripp’s chief navigator and dog sidekick, to Coach Bill Lading, the safety director, all had important messages to be narrated.
As vice president of Women in Trucking, Sparks is exceptionally proud of Dollie Hauler, an independent owner-operator. “She is the seasoned professional that Tripp turns to for help and industry knowledge,” said Sparks, who was enthusiastic about creating a strong female character to represent the female drivers she works with regularly.
The co-authors have continued to lean on the Women in Trucking members to fact check the book as well. Members have helped with everything from plot lines to small details like where to place safety triangles during breakdowns and how to describe a truck air horn.
“They told us, ‘Drivers don’t beep horns, they honk horns!” Sparks exclaimed.
Tripp Wheeler’s second load
In December, the pair published the second book of their series, “A Big Assist: Tripp Wheeler Adventures.” Tripp and Detour continue their over-the-road adventures with a load of hot dogs, traveling through New York boroughs to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Along the way, they make an unplanned shortcut through Amish Country.
“We are excited for the industry lessons they learn in this book,” Hagopian explained. Children will learn more about reading maps and dealing with industry headaches like warehouse mix ups.
Both authors were enthusiastic about a new African American female character who works for Kool Katz hot dogs and is an expert on the Verrazano Bridge in New York City. The co-authors wanted to give this minority group of women a voice, and portray their intelligence and authenticity, even down to the details of her natural hair style.
Sparks described another favorite passage where Tripp begins to feel overwhelmed by traffic on the bridge, and turns to find a car full of children giving him the “Trucker Salute.” “That was something we really wanted to make fun again,” she said.
Newsletters and more
Sparks and Hagopian are nowhere near done with this venture, as they continue to come up with more products for the brand and plan to write up to twelve books. Merchandise, along with the first book, is currently available on their website. Readers can also sign-up for their newsletters titled, “Road Trippin”. The newsletter is full of fun facts and activities to teach children about the industry that keeps America moving.
“Our plan is to release two to three books a year, along with five newsletters in between to keep the children’s attention,” said Hagopian.
Fortunately, with the crew of characters the co-authors have created, losing the children’s attention won’t be a problem.
You can learn more about the 10-4 Good Buggy brand and order their first book, “The Red, White and Blue Party: Trip Wheeler Adventures”at their website.
You can order their second book, “A Big Assist: Tripp Wheeler Adventures,” at Amazon.