Pink has been associated with efforts to fight breast cancer for at least 25 years, since a cosmetics company gave department store clerks small colored ribbons to hand out with makeup as a way to remind women about the need for breast exams.

Since then, the color has been used to raise awareness by selling everything from socks to bracelets, handbags and T-shirts. It’s even been used to paint pace cars in NASCAR races. But it probably hasn’t been put on many sheet metal machines — until now.

Sheet metal products maker Duro Dyne Corp. auctioned off specially created machines at the Jan. 30-Feb. 1 AHR Expo in Las Vegas. Customers had the chance to bid on three pin spotters — two RH Mach IIIs and a portable model MF12A — painted in bright pink with the proceeds going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

In the weeks leading up to the expo, the company promoted the effort on Facebook, Twitter and its website. Social media followers were encouraged to use the hashtag “#DuroDynePink,” with the company donating a dollar to the foundation every time it appeared. 

For its AHR Expo booth, Duro Dyne replaced its longtime yellow and black color scheme with pink, even outfitting its staff in pink button-down shirts.

The efforts raised more than $65,000 for the foundation. Not bad for an idea that came from Duro Dyne technical service manager Willie Vasquez during a brainstorming session on how the company should mark its 65th birthday. 

A huge splash’

“I never dreamt that we would have raised that much money,” said Randy Hinden, CEO of the Bay Shore, New York-based company. “Even our competitors came over and shook our hands. It was definitely a huge splash.”

The winners — Conditioned Air Systems Inc., Air Tech of Houston and Airside Inc. — each spent thousands buying the equipment.

Air Tech owner Bill Wagner, who won the portable MF12A, said he was honored to donate to Duro Dyne’s campaign.

“Breast cancer awareness is something that is near and dear to our hearts, as we all know someone who has been affected or tragically passed away from this illness,” Wagner said in a statement. “Air Tech of Houston donates as often as possible to help create early detection screenings and in hopes of one day finding a cure that can put an end to cancer.”

Several family members of Duro Dyne employees, including Hinden’s sister and two of his sisters-in-law, have been affected by the disease, which made the efforts extra important, Hinden said.

According to the website BreastCancer.org, in 2017, an estimated 255,180 cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in U.S. women. An additional 63,410 cases of noninvasive cancer will also be discovered. Over a lifetime, a woman has a 1 in 8 chance of developing the disease.

“Everyone you talk to knows someone who’s had something to do with breast cancer,” Hinden said.

Alyssa Peluso, Duro Dyne’s advertising and marketing manager, said partnering with the charity was “an obvious choice” for the family-owned company.

The machinery’s special pink paint job was handled by Prizmatic Powder Coating of Medford, New York.

“They do a lot of our powder coating and when they heard of the idea, the gentleman who runs it (Peter Celli) said he would do it free of charge in honor of his mother, who is a breast cancer survivor,” Peluso said.

More popular than expected

Originally, the company had planned to keep one of the specially painted pin spotters at Duro Dyne’s corporate headquarters, but after the first auction generated such a response, Hinden decided to put it up for auction, too. Eventually, the company added the portable unit to its charity fundraising effort. 

In addition, Duro Dyne turned its annual AHR Expo customer appreciation party into a breast cancer charity fundraiser. Held Jan. 30 at the Mirage hotel-casino’s Stack restaurant, the event attracted 250 customers — many of whom stuffed dollars into specially marked boxes at the party. Many Duro Dyne employees also donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

“Everybody really chipped in. Whether it was $10, $100 or $1,000, employees threw money toward the same cause,” Hinden said.

Among the customers that made large donations at the party were Vicon Machinery.

Patrick Rossetto, Duro Dyne’s president, said the campaign raised a lot of money for a good cause and boosted the company’s profile — a win-win.

“It worked out well for us,” he said. 

For reprints of this article, contact Jill DeVries at (248) 244-1726 or email devriesj@bnpmedia.com.