Big-Time Boxes: Shop renovation includes a modular storage innovation

June 6, 2014
The technician toolbox has three double-wide drawers on top and seven drawers underneath, which provide fast and easy tool selection of the most commonly used tools.

SHOP: Gateway Automotive


After Fargo, ND-based Gateway Automotive managed the huge task of remodeling its Chevrolet Cadillac dealership to increase technician storage and improve efficiency while still promoting a professional image, it decided to take on a similar renovation at its Nissan Hyundai facility. This project included incorporating an entirely new tool storage system.

"Since we were starting from scratch, we wanted to plan the best and most-efficient facility, both now and for the future," says Dan Dardis, Gateways’ previous service manager. Mike Livingston, current service manager, previously held the position as a service adviser at the Gateway Chevrolet Cadillac dealership during the Nissan Hyundai renovation.

In the old shop, each tech had his own private toolbox and storage setup with a complete mismatch of different cabinets and workbenches, and lots of clutter. Toolboxes ranged from small to large, in a rainbow of colors.

To implement a uniform, clean-cut look in the new service facility, while still providing enough space for every technician’s tools, Border States Electric (BSE) and Lista International worked together with Gateway to design a visually-appealing and efficient technician service area. The new cabinets, all in Nissan red, are sleek and aesthetic, making the stations uniform and well-balanced. Clutter is eliminated, with space for service towels and rags, service manuals and a computer for diagnostics.  

"The toolboxes are designed well, and are extremely sturdy and very attractive looking. The red paint does not chip easily, and the boxes stand up well in the environment of lubricants we use," says Dardis.

Each technician has a bench, hose reel cabinet, and companion storage tool cabinet, where the upper areas can be used to store items like cordless tool chargers that can be plugged into a power strip located in the upper cabinet. All the doors can be closed and secured with stored items hidden from view. Also, all utilities run behind the cabinets, including air, power and oil lubrication lines.

The technician toolbox has three double-wide drawers on top and seven drawers underneath, which provide fast and easy tool selection of the most commonly used tools. The lower drawers keep more specialized or lesser used tools available and organized. They have the ability to store long tools like torque wrenches and pry bars in these drawers, as well as complete socket and wrench sets.

Livingston attributes a cleaner and safer work environment to the functionality of the tool storage area including the "organizational capacites with the sliding drawers and overhead cabinets. I also really appreciate the built-in hose reels."

A few changes were made from the earlier dealership to take advantage of new and upgraded products as well as productivity improvements. For example, the Nissan upper cabinets have sloped tops so they are not used as a storage location, and can remain clean and clutter free. External hose reel cabinets were placed in special cabinets under the benches, so nothing is hanging from the ceiling. Rather than hanging the external hydraulic pump unit used for powering the rotary lifts, Gateway went with a specially-designed, under-bench cabinet. Each double bay contains a hoist in front of the section of shelving; in front of that is a double pump cabinet with two oval eyehole controls. 

Other updates included sloped-top upper cabinets to keep the area clean and clutter-free, and under-bench external hose reel cabinets to avoid ceiling mounted reels. 

"We absolutely love the new setup," says Dardis. "It’s not only great basic storage, but the hose reel cabinets keep everything out of the way and make it so easy to clean up." 

"I have found the toolboxes give our shop a fine tune-up in efficiency keeping everything within reach for our technicians." Livingston adds that the shop has a cleaner and more professional look for the overall customer experience.

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