Facebook     LinkedIn     Twitter     Google Plus     Jobs     RSS

Business Fleet - Current Articles

January 2013, Business Fleet - Feature

Spec'ing the Extra Mile with Do-It-Yourself Modifications

This sales fleet used some do-it-yourself modifications on the Isuzu Reach to create the optimal operating environment for its drivers.

by Chris Brown - Also by this author

SHARING TOOLS        | Print Subscribe
Photos courtesy of Power Washer Sales.
This fleet modified Reach vans with a winch to aid loading, as well as e-track in the box to secure the equipment, and a file cabinet for parts storage and desk space.
Photos courtesy of Power Washer Sales.This fleet modified Reach vans with a winch to aid loading, as well as e-track in the box to secure the equipment, and a file cabinet for parts storage and desk space.

Jim Coleman has been buying trucks for 55 years, but when he was ready to replace in spring 2011, he couldn’t seem to find a model that fit his exact specifications to accommodate his portable cleaning equipment.

“The problem with everything I had seen up to that point was the inside dimensions weren’t wide enough for me,” says Coleman, owner of Power Washer Sales of Massachusetts, though he notes that he didn’t want a truck as big as a traditional UPS step van.

Then Coleman saw a blurb in a truck magazine about a new type of walk-in commercial van called the Reach from Isuzu and Utilimaster. As part of his research, Coleman actually flew to the van’s production plant in Indiana and even ended up meeting with the president of Utilimaster and the company’s head engineer.

Back home, Coleman made a floor plan in masking tape based on the truck’s dimensions and rolled the company’s portable cleaning equipment inside the lines to make sure it all fit. “Everything seemed to work, except for the access,” Coleman says, referring to the fact that he anticipated difficulty in loading and unloading the equipment — weighing 200-400 lbs.

For years Coleman used Ford E-350 cube vans and loaded equipment with large rail gates, but those couldn’t be utilized on the new van.

Instead, he bought a metal ramp that folded into the back of the truck, though he found that the ramp alone didn’t quite support the weight of the equipment. In addition, the truck’s tailgate iced up in the winter, causing a dangerous condition during loading.

The winch to aid with loading.
The winch to aid with loading.

Getting Resourceful

The solution was to put a small winch on a crossbar inside the truck that ran off the truck’s electrical system. The winch helps to pull the equipment up the ramp. “It’s as easy as pushing a button and up comes the equipment inside the truck,” Coleman says. “It works out extremely well.”

Inside, Coleman installed e-track to secure the equipment. Behind the partition to the cab he added a small file cabinet to store parts and hoses and use as a writing desk. He added air ride seats in the cab for driver comfort.

Coleman needed to make sure the vehicle signage reflected the company’s image, especially on the back door, where other drivers actually have time to read a message. He used vinyl reflective lettering that stands out and doesn’t peel.

“I’ve instructed my guys, either at the end of the day or beginning, to wash that back door, even out of a rainstorm,” Coleman says. “I want them clean and presentable, so by golly, everyone knows who we are.”

Inside the modified Isuzu Reach vans.
Inside the modified Isuzu Reach vans.

Fleet Factors

Power Washer Sales runs four Reach vans, five Hino 268 models with custom bodies by Morgan and four GMC ¾-ton pickups that pull trailers.

The company puts 25,000-35,000 miles a year on the Hinos, sometimes 400-500 miles a day. Through an agreement with his Hino dealer, Coleman swaps into a new Hino chassis at 70,000-90,000 miles while keeping the body. “[The dealer has] already got that chassis sold to another customer,” Coleman says.

Coleman expects to put 20,000-30,000 miles a year on the Reach vans, which are used for sales calls. “These vehicles are rolling representatives of our company,” he says, “and they tell the story without having to blink.”

Coleman figures he’s spending $20,000 more on the Reach than he would a typical cube van. But over an expected five-year service life, “the difference is pennies a day.” And with better fuel economy, less maintenance and more driver satisfaction, he says the extra money is well worth it.


More features from Business Fleet's January/February magazine issue can be read here.

You can also read more small fleet profiles by go to www.businessfleet.com/profiles.

Your Comment

Please note that comments may be moderated. 
Leave this field empty:
Your Name:  
Your Email:  

E-NEWSLETTER

Authoritative & Targeted! We offer e-newsletters that deliver targeted news and information for the entire fleet industry. Subscribe to one or all of them...they're FREE. SUBSCRIBE!

View the latest eNews DRIVING FORCE

ARTICLE ARCHIVE SEARCH

Popular Tags:

Fleet Job Finder


Save time and money. Search for fleet jobs. Advance your career. Access our career coaching services

Job Seekers

  Post your resume & manage your job search.

Employers

  Post jobs & search top quality resumes.

Featured Jobs

BLOG

Driving Notes

Stephane Babcock
2014 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 Van

By Stephane Babcock
The 2014 Sprinter features a 2.1L four-cylinder BlueTEC diesel engine as standard equipment, which quickly picked up to highway speeds as soon as I made my way onto Southern California's San Diego (405) Freeway.

2014 BMW 328d xDrive Sedan

By Chris Wolski
The BMW 328d is one of the new-generation diesels that don't announce themselves a block away, offer smooth handling and great highway and city performance, but just sips fuel whether you're zooming at maximum highway speed or are stuck in traffic.

Market Trends

Mike Antich
The Curse of Running a Well-Managed Fleet

By Mike Antich
A fleet manager’s capabilities and expertise can be easily overlooked by executive management, especially when a fleet is well run. When fleet runs smoothly, it tends not to be on the radar of senior management, who, often, are not aware of the required behind-the-scenes expertise. However, the biggest curse to running a well-run fleet is that it sometimes breeds complacency. Here's how to avoid it.

OTD Concerns Due to Surge of Oil Shipped by Rail

By Mike Antich
The railroad industry is the primary long-distance shipper of automobiles from assembly plants to dealers, which represents almost 9 percent of total rail freight. However, the auto industry is not the only railroad customer, and it competes with other shippers for scarce rail resources. Such is the case with petroleum companies shipping crude oil by rail, which is putting heavy demand on finite rail resources. What impact will this have on fleet OTD?

Using Service Vehicles as Employee Recruiting, Retention Tools

By Mike Antich

Using ‘Gainsharing’ to Achieve Sustainability Goals

By Mike Antich

Auto Focus

Chris Brown
What I Learned at the 2014 Car Rental Show

By Chris Brown
If the Car Rental Show is an indicator of the health of the industry, the North American market is doing well — while the "growth markets" are really taking off.

Remembering Elaine Litwer

By Chris Brown
On the fifth anniversary of Elaine Litwer’s death, I’m brought back to the work she did to repeal vicarious liability. But it’s also caused me to reflect on the mentors in my life.

6 Market Predictors for 2014

By Chris Brown

6 Game Changers for Work Trucks

By Chris Brown

STORE

$5.00

Business Fleet - Buyer's Guide 2013

Buyer’s Guide 2013
Here are some of the Highlights:

  • Vehicle Manufacturers
  • Fleet Management
  • Fuel Management
    And much more…