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 - 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

Paul Clinton
2015 Hyundai Sonata Sedan

By Paul Clinton
The Hyundai Sonata hasn't established a large footprint in the commercial fleet world, yet the 2015 model of this mid-size sedan may be poised to gain greater traction with its appealing exterior styling, stout highway fuel economy, and bevy of interior features.

2015 Mazda6 GT Sedan

By Mike Antich
The Mazda6 represents an ideal model for the commercial fleet market and, after spending several days in the vehicle, I can see where it can excel in meeting commercial fleet applications, especially as a sales or reward vehicle.

2015 Chevrolet Trax Compact SUV

By Steven Martinez

2015 Toyota Camry XSE Sedan

By Adam Pringle

Market Trends

Mike Antich
The Danger of Lower Fuel Prices

By Mike Antich
The recent drop in fuel prices has been as breathtaking as earlier run-up in prices. If sustained, these reduced fuel prices will begin to make a dent in overall fleet fuel expenditures.

Are Ride Sharing & Car Sharing New Fleet Management Options?

By Mike Antich
The role of ride-sharing and car sharing services in fleet operations, is a growing topic of conversation in Europe and China. With this as a backdrop, what future role will car sharing services have in U.S. fleet operations?

Ruminating About the Medium-Duty Truck Market

By Mike Antich

10 Factors Driving Commercial Fleet Vehicle Acquisitions

By Mike Antich

Auto Focus

Chris Brown
5 Predictions for Car Rental in 2015

By Chris Brown
Next year’s mechanics hinge on plentiful new car supply and a softening used car market.

Premieres and Trends at the LA Auto Show

By Chris Brown
The 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show featured less green-speak and more driving excitement aimed at younger buyers. Get ready for more compact crossovers, as Mazda, Honda, Fiat, Volkswagen and Scion launch brand-new models next year.

Hertz’s Earnings News: Rapid Reaction

By Chris Brown

Assessing the Plusses and Minuses of Today’s Market

By Chris Brown

STORE

$5.00

Business Fleet - January/February 2014

In This Issue:
Here are some of the Highlights:

  • Got Compliance
  • Vehicle Valuation 101
  • Cabovers Gain Popularity in Medium-Duty Truck Fleets
    And much more…