Taking a Look at Some of the Cargo Vans Available

Space, riding comfort are some of the advantages of going with a cargo van vs box truck for some plumbing companies.

Taking a Look at Some of the Cargo Vans Available

T ’N G Plumbing of Dexter, Minnesota, has been using a Ford Transit 250 cargo van for the past five years because of the amount of storage space in the van and the comfort of riding in it. The company takes pride in the vehicle’s appearance and cleans it often. (Photo courtesy T 'NG Plumbing)

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Plumbers face a difficult challenge of fitting a full shops worth of tools, equipment and parts in a vehicle. Throw in a jam-packed schedule on top of that and staying organized with all those pieces can be headache.

Vehicles designed to address organization issues faced by those with careers on the road have evolved over the years providing some great options to get you and your equipment to the job site. With so many styles, makes and models to choose from, it comes down to figuring out what you want out of the vehicle and choosing the best fit for you and your crew.

Cargo vans are a popular choice for many plumbers as they not only help them stay organized, but also offer advantages that aren’t found in other work vehicles.

Gina and Todd Grundmeier, owners of T ’N G Plumbing in Dexter, Minnesota, have been using a Ford Transit 250 cargo van for the past five years. “The most specific thing that drew us to it was the ability to be able to transport so much more materials for service work,” says Gina Grundmeier. “That and you could save on your back by not stooping around looking for items.”


Multiple manufacturers produce cargo vans with varying features and capabilities. Grundmeier says they started and ended their search with Ford. And so far, they are happy with their purchase. “There isn’t really anything we dislike about this van as far as changing it,” she says. “The setup we chose when we purchased shelving was carefully researched and storage is utilized to its max potential.”                       

One of the biggest draws of cargo vans is the vast enclosed space they offer, allowing interior customization for storage. Each make and model will vary in terms of interior space, but most cargo vans offer 120-200 cubic feet of space and have options for interior ceiling racks, shelves, bins, drawers or lockers to be added and arranged in a fashion that suits you and your business.

In the Grundmeier’s van, they have shelving units on both sides of their Transit providing a multitude of storage options for equipment and parts. The ample shelving and storage possibilities is one of the biggest attributes that the Grundmeiers like about the cargo van. They are able to use bins within the shelving to store various PVC fittings, power tools and smaller service parts. The van provides plenty of room to lay lengths of PVC pipe on the floor while keeping enough room for a clear pathway to maneuver throughout the vehicle.

Comfort is another thing that attracts people to cargo vans as their office on wheels. It’s easy to focus on the storage attributes of a service vehicle, but don’t forget about staying comfortable for long hours on the road. Cargo vans are designed to match the comfort level of an SUV or minivan, so driving them commercially doesn’t strain the operator.

“There is probably more capacity for storage in a box truck, but it wouldn’t drive me to own one,” Grundmeier says. “I did use one through a previous employer. I felt they were a rough ride and more challenging to maneuver driving to service calls in town when weather was inclement, meaning snow.

“The gas mileage we get now is also a bonus,” she adds. Cargo vans in today’s market have put a lot of research and development into fuel efficiency making their fuel consumption considerably lower than box trucks. However, how much better depends on the make and model you choose.

Cargo vans come in various sizes and often grouped as large, or compact. Large cargo vans like the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter advertises up to 19 mpg with other comparable size vans from other van manufacturers advertising from 15-18 mpg. Obviously, the larger vans will permit more storage than their compact counterpart, but the smaller compact cargo vans make up for that in added miles per gallon with some models like the Dodge RAM ProMaster City advertising 28 mpg highway.


Another added benefit that comes standard with cargo vans no matter their size is the blank wall on each side of the vehicle’s exterior and their rear doors. That space is easily transformed into a mobile billboard for your business name and logo. However, remember that your van is a representation of your company, especially if your logo is covering the outside of it.

With that in mind, make sure you develop a routine schedule of cleaning and organizing the vehicle. Just like the welcome area in a front office, the vehicle may be the first impression a potential customer has of you and your business so it needs to be kept tidy and impressive to anyone who may see the inside.

“Cleaning is done weekly,” Grundmeier says. “I try to maintain as best as I can on a daily basis to keep the van in its best shape. I feel that the appearance of the inside is just as important as the appearance of the outside. If my customers, when my customers, see inside my van, they will see organization and not scatter. I believe that reassures them of my work ethics as well.”

Whether it becomes your one and only service vehicle or part of a larger fleet, cargo vans have a lot to offer plumbers, but do some research and find the van that fits your business needs.  


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