Before the New Orleans Saints take the field, John Fayard Moving and Warehousing crews have to deliver the footballs, uniforms, video equipment and tons of other black and gold equipment from the team training facility to the Mercedes Benz Superdome.
For out-of-town games, Fayard hauls equipment to the New Orleans airport and a second crew drives to the hosting stadium. Only New York and Foxborough are out of range.
This is the first year the Gulfport moving company has had the contract with the Saints and the team’s winning season is icing on the cake for the family-owned movers and their employees.
“The whole experience has been neat for our associates and everybody’s been really excited about the season they’re having. On Fridays we have casual day and a lot of folks wear Saints gear,” said John Fayard, himself a season-ticket holder.
Fayard approached team officials earlier this year about moving the team equipment. “We toured the facility and had a nice meeting with them,” he said. “Several weeks later they came over to tour our facility and basically see our operations.”
The Saints equipment managers then asked Fayard to do a test run to the Louis Armstrong International Airport and the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Soon after, they got the job.
In typical fashion, Fayard went the extra mile for their new customer. The company had monogrammed uniforms specially made for the moving crew members to coordinate with the Saints game day uniform colors. “When the Saints dress out in black, we wear black. When they wear white, we wear white shirts and black pants. They’re very nice and the guys look really professional,” Fayard said.
With the team’s approval, the company also bought “wraps” for the two new trucks bought especially to haul Saints gear. One wrap is a truck-sized photo from a Saints-Green Bay game and the other shows hulking Saints linemen in a three-point stance. “It’s kind of a moving billboard for the Saints but it gives us name recognition, too, that we’re the official moving partner of the New Orleans Saints,” Fayard said.
One new truck is a 16-footer, and the second, a 24-foot truck has a special lift gate for the equipment. Fayard said he typically would use a 26-foot truck but went for the shorter length because of where the truck would be parked at the Dome. “If we had the 26-footer, we’d block the entrance to one of the busiest elevators in the Superdome so we had to have a 24-foot truck,” Fayard said. The estimated weight of the equipment in the larger truck is 12,000 pounds.
Fayard has moved the team equipment for every game starting with the preseason. Crews pick up the footballs, helmets, uniforms, shoes and other equipment at the Metairie training facility and take it to the Superdome for home games. “The only games that we don’t go to with our trucks would be New York and New England but we take equipment to the airport for each away game.” Driving to St. Louis and Chicago depends on the weather.
“When the plane returns, we meet it at a very specific time. It’s imperative we’re on time. So far we’ve been right on the money and everybody’s happy,” Fayard said.
That includes Fayard employees Kenny Wilson, Jasper Calvert and James Carter, who handle the Saints moves.
Wilson, who has worked for Fayard for 14 years, said he couldn’t believe his luck getting picked to drive the 24-foot truck assigned to the Saints gear.
“When my boss asked me about doing it I said yes before he could get it out of his mouth. It’s like a dream come true.”
For a typical Sunday home game, Wilson said crews leave Gulfport around 6 a.m. on Saturday, move the gear to the stadium and come home. They return Sunday morning for the game and start repacking at halftime.
The moving crew watches the game from behind the players’ bench, right in the midst of the action and the crowd noise, said Wilson. “You can’t even hear yourself talk. You’re just surrounded by noise.”
Wilson calls his wife, Frances, “the No. 1 Saints fan” and said she and their two daughters watch for him on TV at home games.
Wilson said, “It is a true blessing, knowing the Saints are your team and you are right there. I never thought I’d be there to do my part on the sideline and inside the locker room.”
Fayard’s son, Tripp, a lifelong Saints fan, dispatches and coordinates the equipment moving. “It’s a unique and exciting experience to feel like you’re part of the team and getting to know a lot of the players, the coaches and the equipment staff one on one,” he said.