Fleet Speak: Customized Vehicle for Downtown Areas

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By Greg Franklin, Director of Fleet and Facilities

Operating in metropolitan areas can present plenty of opportunities, but it also comes with plenty of challenges. Particularly in our D.C. landscape management branch, we are continually fighting the logistics of parking, tight one-way streets and battling traffic in a truck and trailer combo measuring almost 50 ft in length.

To address these challenges, we recently acquired our first production van to serve the D.C. market. While it cannot fit the full inventory needed to equip a six-man crew, this down-sized version of our typical truck and trailer combo can fit up to two large mowers and is designed to be a specialty horticulture van serving small (mainly turf) job sites in the city.

While we certainly aren’t the first landscape company to use this type of vehicle, a lot of thought went into customizing the buildout to make it as efficient as possible for our crews. Our vendor partner had built similar vans for other companies, however we made some strategic decisions to fit our specific needs:

  • We eliminated a second row of seats to increase the cargo room without extending the back of the van (to address the tight parking areas)
  • We created three seats in the front row to allow flexibility in crew size
  • We made a conscious effort to duplicate our trailer setup as much as possible with the idea of keeping our model consistent throughout our fleet
  • The rear doors were replaced with a full-size ramp to allow easy access and for loading large equipment
  • The sides of the van were reinforced with stainless steel to minimize body damage, and the flooring was chosen for its durability

This custom van will allow us to get to our job sites more quickly and efficiently, offer lower fuel consumption, and will help reduce injury and accident rates, which will result in a cost savings that we hope to ultimately pass on to the customer.

While this is just the first iteration, we have received very positive feedback from the D.C. branch so far. Based on their experience, we will make any necessary improvements and potentially make this model available to other branches serving metropolitan areas. As always, we continue to look for opportunities to keep innovation at the forefront of our business and find solutions to best serve our customers.