Archive | Subscribe | May 2015  

A Closer Look at Van Upfits

Print Print this Article | Send to Colleague


Thousands of professionals in the construction industry use a work van on the job every day. In fact, according to Automotive Fleet, the top 300 commercial fleets utilize a total of 202,331 work vans. With so many work vans on the road, there is an increasing demand for professionally installed upfits. An upfit provides professionals with an organized system for storing cargo items such as tools, parts, and other equipment.

Upfits can include a variety of different functional pieces to increase the storage and efficiency of the cargo area of a van. Popular upfit options include:

  • Bulkheads and partitions – Bulkheads, also known as partitions, separate the cab from the cargo area. The primary purpose of a bulkhead is to keep vehicle passengers safe from shifting cargo during transportation. Additionally, bulkheads can increase the organization of a van by creating a distinct barrier between the cargo area and the passenger area. This barrier also makes it easier to control the climate during those hot summer days and chilly winters.
  • Shelving – Shelving units can be installed along the sides of a work van to create more vertical storage space for tools and other equipment. Some shelving comes with removable bin systems to increase organization and efficiency.
  • Drawers – Drawer units help to keep smaller parts safe and secure during transportation. Drawers with locks are especially useful for storing more valuable equipment. Drawers can often be integrated with shelving units and are also available as modular units. Floor drawers installed along the base of an upfit provide extra storage without taking up much wall space.
  • Ladder Racks – Installed on the roof of a work van, a ladder rack removes the need to store a bulky, cumbersome ladder in the back of a van. Ladder racks are a safe and secure way to transport a ladder to and from a worksite. Some ladder racks are specially designed with user-comfort in mind and help to eliminate back strain.
Trade packages and trade-specific upfit products are also available to meet the specific needs of professionals in a given industry.

Durability and strength is an important factor in the construction of upfits. Upfits are typically built to last for a vehicle’s lifetime and are designed with longevity in mind. Popular upfit materials include steel, aluminum, and composite materials. The upfitting industry as a whole has noticed a trend toward using lighter-weight materials in the design of upfit products. Consumers can expect slimmer, more efficient upfits than what has been available in the past.

Depending on the company, there are several ways to get a van upfitted. Here are a few of the most common methods:

  • Bailment pool – A bailment pool is an existing inventory of pre-upfitted work vans that are for sale. Bailment pools are typically utilized by dealers; however, some companies have fleet customer bailment pools and road-ready vans that are already upfitted and ready for sale.
  • Commercial vehicle programs – Some of the larger upfit companies have established relationships with the major van manufacturers such as Ford, GM, Nissan, and RAM. If a customer is in the market for a brand new work van, he or she can talk with their commercial vehicle dealer to see if the company is involved with any incentive programs. If so, customers can often buy a new work van equipped with a custom upfit at a special discount.
  • Distributor installation – Many upfit manufacturers have a network of distributers who are trained to make recommendations and professionally install upfits. These distributors are usually local auto body and equipment shops and are experts in the products that they’re certified to install.

Todd Goldmeyer is the marketing manager at Adrian Steel, a leader in the cargo management solutions industry. Adrian Steel designs and manufactures innovative upfit solutions for work vans, trucks, cargo trailers, and walk-in vans. For additional information, please visit


Share Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn

Associated General Contractors of America
2300 Wilson Blvd, Suite 300
Arlington, VA, USA
Ph: 703-548-3118 Fax: 703-837-5402