Business Insider

How to organize your work van

Billy Stutz, a Ferguson Marketing Manager

by Billy Stutz


For professional tradespeople, the work van is more than just an engine and four tires. It’s your portable office on wheels. Whether you’re a plumber, HVAC contractor or general contractor, your work van or truck plays a fundamental role in your business. You rely on it to transport all of the tools, parts and equipment you need to get the job done every day. That’s what makes knowing how to organize a work van so important. Creating a mobile storage system will help you and your crew cut the time spent finding and gathering equipment needed for the job. Here are six tips to help you organize your work van:

1. Create a foundation.

Similar to building a house, creating a solid foundation is an essential part of building an efficient storage system in your work van. Always store bigger items on the floor or in lower compartments of your van, and leave room towards the top for smaller items. Air compressors, generators and drain cleaning machines are some examples of large equipment that you should store at a low level. Keeping large equipment on the bottom not only maximizes space, but will also help save your back when lifting heavy items.

2. Think vertically.

Once you’ve created your foundation, start stacking items vertically along the interior walls of your van. Sort items based on size and work your way up, putting the smallest parts at the top. Install a pegboard and hooks to hang medium-sized items such as hand tools and power tools. Stackable bins and tool storage containers are an excellent solution for keeping your small repair parts in order. Why stop at the top? Consider hanging poles across the length of your van to suspend lightweight items from the ceiling, like extension cords. Just be sure to leave enough clearance for head room.

Bonus tip: Combine storage containers with customized bin labels. Save time restocking your van’s inventory by adding barcodes to the labels and use them with a barcode scanner or the free SKU barcode scanner mobile app.

Learn more about inventory management solutions >>

3. Location is key.

Consider how often you use the individual pieces of equipment in your work van to determine where to place them. Whether the doors are located on the side or in the back, the space around them should be reserved for your most frequently used items. Think about your average week on the job. Which items do you use once a week? Twice a week? Daily? For those items that you use all day on the job, such as your tool belt, install a shelf or hang a hook near the door of the van for easy access. Leave the room in the back of the van for the items you use less often.

Bonus tip: Kneeling on the hard surface of your van’s floor to reach in and get equipment can be hard on your knees. Install padded floor mats around the door to make it more comfortable to lean in and grab the items you need throughout the day.

4. Don't forget the doors.

The interior side of your van door is another surface you can use to maximize storage. Magnetized stripping is an excellent solution for hanging metal hand tools like hammers, pliers and tape measurers. One more cost-effective storage option for your van doors is to hang fabric or plastic closet organizers with pockets to store your small and lightweight equipment that you use frequently throughout the day.

Bonus tip: Secure a hand truck next to the interior side of the van or truck’s doors using cargo straps to maximize space and make it easier for you to move heavy tools and equipment on and off the vehicle.

5. Give it light.

After you’ve created the ultimate mobile storage system in your work van, the next step is to incorporate lights. Hang tap-activated lights on the interior side of your van doors to help you see on rainy days or on after-hour service calls. Be sure to hang a lantern or a worklight in the back corners of your van to help you find the equipment that you use less often. Choosing a battery-operated worklight or lantern with a hook will allow you to move seamlessly from your work van to the jobsite.

6. Cut the clutter.

Because your work van or truck is your on-the-go workspace, it’s simple for the interior to become messy by the time the job is done for the day. Dirt gets tracked in, wrappers and trash from lunch on the road get tossed on the floor, and debris from cutting work material in the bed of the truck coats the interior surfaces. Reducing clutter and keeping the work van tidy will open up the van’s space. Store a slim trash can, trash bags, sanitizing wipes and a duster on your work van to keep it clean and clear from clutter.

Now that you know how to create the ultimate storage system in your work van, the last step is to build it and get back on the job. If you’ve designed a storage system that you’re proud of, share it with other trade pros in your industry. Send us your story for a chance to show off your work in Talkin' Shop.

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Billy Stutz, a Ferguson Marketing Manager
Billy Stutz

For more than 10 years, Billy has been a dedicated supply-chain strategist delivering quality information to his customers and offering solutions to drive actionable results to their bottom line.