Gregory Poole Organizes Painting Excavator Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness

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It’s not every day you see the color pink used on a work site, much less an entire pink excavator. For those working at Nutrien’s Phosphate facility in Aurora, North Carolina, an excavator painted pink for breast cancer awareness will be a daily occurrence thanks to the teamwork between three companies: Nutrien, Gregory Poole Equipment Company (GPEC), and Rudy’s Truck & Trailer.

The project started when Nutrien employees brainstormed different community and environmental awareness opportunities. After one employee suggested painting machinery pink to honor employees impacted by breast cancer, the idea was quickly greenlit by General Manager William Ponton and Manager of Mine Operations Jeremy Pierce.

“There are many employees here on site who are breast cancer survivors and others that have family members who have been impacted or have survived breast cancer. And this was a way for us to show our support for them and to raise awareness for breast cancer to anyone who sees the machine in operation,” says Pierce.

Having worked with Gregory Poole Equipment Company for 23 years, Pierce reached out to the company to buy a new excavator. When Pierce revealed Nutrien’s plans for the excavator, GPEC got in touch with Amy Pearson, the President of Rudy’s Truck & Trailer.

While Rudy’s Truck & Trailer had painted new and used equipment for Gregory Poole before, Bryant Balentine, Gregory Poole’s Mining & Corporate Accounts Manager, had no idea how special the project would be for Pearson, a breast cancer survivor herself.

Pearson is living proof of the effectiveness of pink symbolizing breast cancer awareness. In October 1994, magazine and television ads displaying pink ribbons for Breast Cancer Awareness Month convinced Pearson to visit the doctor to investigate a knot she found three months prior. She was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer at the age of 27.

“He gave me a call and asked me if I would be interested in quoting that. And of course, I was like, ‘Oh, yeah.’ One, of course I would want to paint it. But two, I was like, ‘Yeah, I had breast cancer too. And so that would be just a really cool thing to be able to be part of a project like that,’” Pearson recounts.

With everyone on board, all three companies worked together and contributed financially to bring the large-scale project to completion. Gregory Poole coordinated the painting of the machine and delivered the Cat 395 Excavator to Rudy’s Truck & Trailer in Bailey, North Carolina. The excavator was delivered in three separate parts and assembled by Gregory Poole for Pearson’s team to begin painting.

“It’s just really exciting how everyone just jumped in and just was really excited about the project and the opportunity to support it,” says Pierce.

Painting the machine took Pearson’s team 419 hours and used 13 gallons of pink paint. Those who painted the machine affectionately named the excavator “Big Pink,” and Pearson and her team took photos with the excavator once the job was done. For the photos, Pearson wore her own commemorative breast cancer awareness shirt.

“It was a lot of fun having pictures. We’ve never done a group picture here with our employees and having that group picture done, they love that,” says Pearson. “That big pink machine is a beautiful background and it tied into a very, very serious time in my life.”

Gregory Poole then disassembled the machine to transport it to Nutrien’s Phosphate facility in Aurora, North Carolina. Once the excavator arrived, Nutrien employees were able to see their brainstorm come to life.

“You could tell they did a high-quality job that they really cared about. They took extra time with it. And so it looks like it came right from the factory,” Pierce says of Rudy’s Truck & Trailer’s painting job.

Nutrien is the world’s largest provider of crop inputs and services and the second largest phosphate producer in North America. The company’s new pink excavator will work onsite in Nutrien’s gypsum stack process as part of its phosphate operations. Even though the excavator is not publicly displayed, Pierce has already received feedback about its positive impact.

“A couple of our employees who are also breast cancer survivors, who just reached out and said that they just thought it was amazing, that just seeing the pink machine and what it represented gave them a sense of pride and knowing that the company was thinking about them,” says Pierce.

Whether the pink excavator encourages an employee to go to the doctor or makes someone feel seen while at work, Pierce hopes the machine continues to raise awareness going forward.

“I hope it raises awareness for breast cancer because it touches so many people,” he says. “We care about what they went through, what their family’s going through, and just raising that overall awareness is a big part of it.”