Serves the Commercial Small Fleet Market of 10 – 50 Vehicles

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.

January 2013, by - Also by this author

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.

Twitter Facebook Google+

Comments

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

Fleet Incentives

Determine the actual cost of owning and running a vehicle in your fleet. Compare vehicles by class and model.

Blog

Market Trends

Mike Antich
10 Ways Fleet Managers Can Avoid Being Under-Rated by Senior Management

By Mike Antich
There is an ongoing perception by senior management that fleet management is not a complicated and sophisticated profession. As a result, one of the biggest challenges facing fleet managers is getting management to recognize and acknowledge their contribution to the company. Here are 10 ways to ensure management recognizes your contribution to the company’s bottom line.

Finding the Right Balance: Over-Spec’ing vs. Under-Spec’ing Trucks

By Mike Antich

View All

Driving Notes

Mike Antich
First-Ever Mazda Ice Academy Showcases i-ACTIV AWD System

By Mike Antich
The Mazda Ice Academy was designed to demonstrate Madza’s i-ACTIV all-wheel drive (AWD) on a dedicated ice course in Crested Butte, Colo. It was a very convincing demonstration of reactive vs. predictive on-demand AWD.

2016 BMW 340i xDrive

By Paul Clinton

View All

Nobody Asked Me, But...

Sherb Brown
Preparing Your Fleet to Meet Rising Market Trends

By Sherb Brown
Plan ahead for the future and have discussions with your senior management about costs and what the future has in store for your fleet. While it looks like the cost of a gallon of gasoline may be going down, the cost of everything else is going to go up.

Analyzing the Future of Fleet

By Sherb Brown

View All

Auto Focus

Chris Brown
The Recall Bill Has Passed – Now Comes the Hard Part

By Chris Brown
Now that the legislation will become law, car rental operators will face many operational and compliance challenges. It’s time to work together to find solutions.

The Ripple Effect of a Positive Customer Service Experience

By Chris Brown

View All

STORE

Business Fleet Magazine - November/December 2015
$12.95

Featured Articles Include: * Driver Safety 101: Braking, Steering and Scanning the Road * 2016 Medium-Duty Truck Trends * Pest Control Fleet Manages High Mileage and Heavy Loads

Up Next

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher