Time for a truck upgrade?

Oct. 3, 2012
Different display options for products on tool trucks

At first glance, walking onto a tool truck today doesn’t look that different from the trucks 15 years ago. But a closer examination shows some major differences and it looks like even more are on the way.

Displays Inside the Truck

There are many options for distributors who want to upgrade or change the display on their truck. Already have a truck, and just want some minor upgrades to enhance product and display? Here are some different options and trends.

Consider Lighting

Broken fluorescent fixtures and missing ballasts are probably more common than many distributors would like in today’s tool trucks. LED lighting is quickly growing in popularity. The smaller focused light can really bring a new feel to a tool store.

The biggest advantages are that the lights are smaller and, more importantly, they flatter the space they illuminate, which adds space and accessibility to truck displays.

The biggest drawback? Initial cost. But when deciding on LED lighting, factor in the decreased amperage required to power LEDs, along with the longer luminescent life – LEDs can be a great long-term investment for a tool truck.

LCD Video Evolves

The continuing popularity and reduction in cost of video display equipment has spawned an increase in these items being utilized in tool trucks. Monitors can now be positioned in multiple locations of a tool truck to run instructional or other promotional materials for products on the truck.

Types of Displays

New types of displays are growing in popularity. Hammer/chisel displays will continue to be popular, but cordless tool, diagnostic tools, along with non-traditional style displays (sunglass, energy drink), continue to gain space in today’s trucks.

Modularity offers benfits

Expect to see more trucks that can be readily modified to fit market demands as well as the inventory the distributor currently has available. Has that 96” toolbox pocket box turned into box storage until the next toolbox arrives? Why not have temporary displays or shelves to fill that space until another toolbox arrives.

Running a special on diagnostic for a month and want that display right in front of the door? Mobile displays that can be moved from space to space are one of many ways to make a tool truck more modular and can help keep the store fresh and marketed specifically for customers.

New Truck Trends

When in the market for purchasing a new or used truck, consider some these ideas for display and long-term use of the truck.

Cabs and Store Access

Why crawl when you can walk? Crawl-through access to the van area of the tool truck is quickly becoming a thing of the past. More and more distributors are opting to go with a full walkthrough to easily get from the driver's seat to the back of the truck.

Medium Duty Diesel Trucks

It's important to know how to drive (and care for) a truck to be a tool distributor. The area with the most change over the past five years has been with the trucks themselves. The year 2007 brought many changes to how trucks were built, and more specifically, the emission standards for diesel burning engines.

Emission add-ons lead to some issues with performance and mileage for the medium duty trucks that are so popular with distributors. Many of the growing pains with emission standards have been fixed, but pre–2007 trucks are still popular because they are free of the emission add-ons.

Chassis Manufacturers

At Summit Bodyworks, employees are often asked what type of chassis a distributor should choose. The company's answer is almost always “Whichever one will give you the best service."

If deciding to purchase a truck, know where that truck will go for service before deciding on a manufacturer. Distributors may have a particular manufacturer on their route. Or, they may not have one for 200 miles. Before a purchase, also try to visit the manufacturer's service facility and talk to them about their service process and a pending tool truck build.

Size and Upfit

Distributors should also consider their plans for the truck five years, 10 years and beyond. Is this the last truck until retirement? Or something that may need to be replaced in four years? If it’s your last truck, make it a dream truck. Want that 30’ truck with cotton candy machine? Go for it! But if re-sell value is a consideration, stay in the zone: 18' to 24', with plenty of display space, areas for toolbox storage and nothing crazy.

Summit Bodyworks is a premier manufacturer of specialty vehicles that has been making it possible for various types industry to take their products directly to their customers for over 20 years. For more information on Summit Bodyworks, call 303-301-7485 or visit summitbodyworks.com.

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