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A mosaic of American brands’

ANNA BOARINI | Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Brothers and Notre Dame alumni Walter and Patrick Hessert are living the dream, traveling the country in an Airstream trailer sharing their passion for American entrepreneurial spirit.

“We wanted to go on the ultimate road trip before I started my next job and before Patrick started his,” Walter said. “So I bought an Airstream trailer, but right before we left, I decided that I wanted to do something with it.”

Instead of just hitting the open road, Walter, a 2006 Notre Dame graduate, and Patrick, who graduated in 2009, founded the Million Dollar Roadtrip, a dynamic marketing company celebrating young, passionate American entrepreneurs. Their journey began on July 4 in Lebanon, Kan., and they plan to visit 48 states in one year.

“As a company, we can cover a full gamut of national events for businesses because we are so mobile,” Walter said.

The brothers plan for their 23-foot blue Airstream trailer to be covered in 10,000 advertisements, measuring two square inches each. They hope to sell $1 million in advertisements during their journey to reach this goal. To date, they have sold $50,000 worth of advertising.

“We want to create a mosaic of American brands,” Patrick said.

Even though their Airstream trailer is at the core of their brand, it is more than just their business — it is their home for the next 11 months. They said they affectionately refer to it as “Alleroy,” in honor of their grandfather.

“The Airstream is covered in ads that are products of enterprising and ingenuity of this country,” Walter said. “Seeing the Airstream generates a visceral reaction among young people.”

The brothers said they want to create a social and creative network of young visionaries.

Million Dollar Road Trip also gives Inspirations Grants every two weeks. They award these grants to businesses that embrace the passionate spirit the Hessert brothers want to spread. Thus far, they have given $500 cash and $200 worth of advertising space to three recipients.

At the beginning of the trip, Walter and Patrick said they talked about the people they met and decide who deserved the award. A huge milestone for this dynamic duo came a few weeks into their journey; people began to recognize the Airstream trailer and the Hessert’s message and started to make nominations for the grants.

Now that people have heard about their project, they are implementing a voting system through their website so people who are following their journey can vote for winners of the Inspiration Grant.

The brothers said the passionate people they meet continue to inspire them.

“I love finding people and sharing their stories,” Patrick said.

In the past few months, they traveled through big cities and attended events such as the Ironman in Lake Placid, N.Y., The Brendan Borek Surf Competition in Avalon, N.J., and the Notre Dame vs. Michigan football game in South Bend last weekend.

“Going to the game is a homecoming for us,” Walter said.

They said they are also looking forward to other events, such as a rodeo in Omaha, Neb.

“We’re just wannabe cowboys,” Patrick said with a laugh.

When their yearlong cross country trip is over, the brothers hope their Airstream will be a design piece. In addition to its exterior advertising, the interior will be covered with pictures of the people they met. The brothers said they hope it could be showcased in art museums across the country.

“It will be a mosaic of Americana art celebrating what is at the core of this country,” Walter said.