Plumbing Van Organization: Racking, Shelving & Storage Ideas

20th Apr 2018

How often have you heard yourself say this: “Where the heck is that wrench?”

You’ve been looking through stuff in the back of your van for several minutes now and there's still no sign of the tool you need. Meanwhile, your client is getting impatient and wondering where you are. You’re also falling further behind on your next job. You’ll have to call them and apologize for being late.

Plumbers work hard at the best of times and don’t need the annoyance of not being able to find the tools they need as quickly as possible. Organizing your tools in the van not only helps you get jobs done more efficiently but also helps you get on the road to your next job on time.

If you tend toward spending several minutes going back and forth to your van, always looking for a tool you can’t find because you don’t know where it is, you're just costing yourself or your employer time and money. These are things you cannot afford to waste.

There are three keys to a making your plumbing van more efficient and productive:

  1. Organization
  2. Organization
  3. Organization

Did we mention that plumbing van organization is a key to your success?

Think of it this way:

Your van is your office. It’s the place from which you conduct business every day.

Now, imagine you worked in an office job.

You’ve got a big client coming in for an important meeting but your office is a mess. It looks like a tornado just swept through it. You can’t find the information the client needs, papers are piled on your desk and you don’t know where you put the client's contract.

How much business do you think you’re going to get from that person? No bonuses this year.

Now, think of your plumbing business the same way. Your work van organization ideas need to be as efficient as those of any office worker.

So if your van is a disorganized mess, it’s time to think about some plumbing van storage ideas and upfits! Racks and shelving, like those offered by Advantage Outfitters, LLC, can help you stay organized and efficient. They make it much easier to find the tool — whether it's a safety valve, a washer or a pipe bender — when timing is most critical. And when you need that special tool for a tough job, you’ll know exactly where it is.

You’ll need more than just an upfit with new shelves and racking, though. You’ll need to think about how you want to organize your van and where you want things to go. We'll look at some of those ideas below, but right now let’s take a look at the tools every plumber should have.

Essential Tools for a Plumber

Okay — you may have been a plumber for a long time. And you probably have a pretty good idea what you’ll need for the essential tools of plumbing. But not every plumber has as much experience as you do and there are new people learning the trade all the time. So here’s a good starting list of what every professional plumber will need.

  • Tongue and groove pliers. The best tools for loosening a tight bolt or piece of pipe.
  • Hacksaw. Sooner or later you’re going to have to cut through a pipe. You want a good hacksaw, and probably two or three of different sizes.
  • Pipe cutter. A pipe cutter produces a cleaner cut than a hacksaw. They should also be your first choice in any tight spot or difficult-to-reach area.

  • Emergency valve. It’s the standard TV go-to shot about a plumbing disaster. A pipe bursts and a plume of water spurts up into the air. Unfortunately, this happens sometimes. An emergency valve is what you’ll need to bring it under control.
  • Inspection camera. Sometimes you can’t see what you need to fix. The inspection camera solves this problem. You can find cameras that work in almost every situation, including waterproof ones, and for any pipe size.
  • Pipe bender. They can be a little more expensive than other more manual measures, but a good pipe bender saves you time and, as we noted above, that saves you money. You are almost always going to have to bend pipes on a job, so this is a very smart tool to have.
  • Pipe wrench. This is the ultimate plumbers’ tool and has been for many years.

  • Metal file. This comes in particularly handy if you’re using a hacksaw to cut pipes. The file allows you to smooth out the rough edges of any cut.
  • Snakes. Also known as augurs, they are without a doubt the best way to clear a clogged drain.
  • Propane torch and solder. It’s also a good idea to include a fire-resistant cloth and some safety goggles with these items — it's the best way to close up those copper pipe joints and cuts.
  • Washers. You'll need an assortment. Find as many sizes as you can, because you never know what you’ll need on the job.
  • Plumber's tape. Useful for sealing leaks at threaded joint connections.
  • Toilet plunger. Yes, most people have one in their homes. But there will be that one time when they don’t and you’ll really need it. So it’s a good idea to keep one in your work van.

Last but not least:

  • Copper or PVC pipes. Two different types of pipes for two different types of jobs. You’ll need them both.

There are many other tools and materials that a good plumber uses, but the items above are essentials.

When you look at the list above and consider that professional plumbers also carry many other tools and smaller accessories, you can see how using shelving, racks and other van organizational equipment such as that offered by Advantage Outfitters, LLC makes every plumbing job more efficient.

Another benefit of plumbing van shelving comes from the protection it offers for all of these valuable pieces of equipment. You know how easy it is for things to get lost when you’re dealing with a mess. There’s a reason people say, “everything in its place and a place for everything.” When you have a storage bin or rack for each item, it’s easy to find and put it back each time you use it.

Thinking Through the Use of Shelves and Racks

Before you purchase plumbing van shelving, it’s time to think about some work van organization ideas. If you think about how you want to use your shelves and racking, it will make it that much easier to select the system you want.

This is an important step, so take your time. Think about all the different items you use on the job and how you want to organize them properly. For instance, you'll want to have the items you use most often closer to the doors of your van. It’s just a little time-saving step, but when added up repeatedly, it can result in a big cost savings.

There’s also no reason you can’t afford a little comfort. Install a noise-deafening partition or padded floor mats around the van. If you need to lean in to grab an item from a lower shelf, your knees will thank you and you'll be protecting your van floor and walls from damage.

So, when you sit down to plan out where you want everything in the back of your van, here are some elements to consider:

  • Taking stock. What do you want to have in the van? What are the most important things you need to have? What don’t you need?
  • Repetition. Think about how many times you’re in and out of your van. Also, what items do you regularly get from your van? It’s the best way to figure out which items should be closest to the door.
  • Think about your back. It may sound like an odd consideration, but it’s an important one. You want your van storage design to be ergonomic. What does that mean? It means if you have heavy items you know you’re going to use regularly, don’t store them in some hard-to-reach corner. Place it in a location that will be easier to access. Or, better yet, put it on a shelf unit that you can pull out of your van and then remove the piece of equipment.
  • Visibility. Let there be light! It’s very difficult to find the tools you need in an unorganized, dark van. When you use shelves and racks to organize your van, you create space to include light above. Use touch-activated lights inside your van for better viewing. This is especially important for rainy, overcast days or when you have to make emergency night calls.
  • Cost-effectiveness. What kind of shelves and racks do you want? Advantage Outfitters, LLC offers both steel and aluminum shelves and racks. If cost is the most important factor, you’ll probably want to go with steel interiors because they are usually the most cost-effective. If you’re more worried about fuel costs in the long run, you should look at aluminum and its lighter-weight construction.

  • Uniformity. This item is important if you operate a business with a fleet of plumbing trucks. If you develop a design that can work in all your trucks, all of your employees will always know where everything is in every truck. This is particularly useful if one truck breaks down and an employee has to finish a job in another truck.

As you can see, it takes a little work to put all this together. We recommend building your system from the ground up. Heavier or less-frequently-used items should go on the bottom. Work your way up the shelves so the smallest parts end up on top.

And label everything! Being better organized is wonderful, but if you don’t know what’s in the drawers, you’ll spend just as much time as if you were dealing with a messy van.

Remember —  plumbing van organization results in:

  • Everything in its place and a place for everything. ‘Nuff said.
  • An improved image with your customers. Don’t short-sell this idea. If your customer sees inside your van, and many will, and they see a neatly organized system, it says you know what you're doing. Everything you do should be geared toward the idea of encouraging repeat business from your customer and a good recommendation to other people who need a plumber.
  • Increased productivity. Think about how many times in a day you have to go back and forth to your van. From the moment you arrive to the moment you leave, you want to be as efficient as possible. When you upfit your van with the shelving and rack system from Advantage Outfitters, LLC, you’re making your job more efficient and far less frustrating.

  • Much more space. Space may be the final frontier, but if you don’t have it in your van it’s really annoying. If you just have everything spread out everywhere, your floor cluttered with tools and piping, not only does it slow you down, but it could be dangerous. Plumbers know all too well that when you make a sudden stop in traffic everything can fly towards the front of the van. Protect your tools, van, and yourself with proper organization.
  • Less theft. It’s much easier for somebody who is just walking by to casually pick up a piece of your equipment if all of your tools are scattered over your van's floor. How will you know it’s missing? An organized van is a theft-proof van.
  • Happy customers. Nothing makes your client happier than when you tell them, “Not a problem! I’ve got just what you need.” Nothing leads more quickly to frustration than hearing, "I’m going to have to come back another day because I don’t have that part right now.

The Van Upfitting Products You Need

Now that we’ve covered the multiple benefits van organization for plumbers, we want to talk a little bit about the kind of shelves and racking you might want to use in your work vans. And also look at some accessories that will just make life a lot easier.

Advantage Outfitters, LLC offers an assortment of products that will increase productivity and make you and your employees happier.

  • Wall and ceiling liners. Vans can take a real beating — especially if your service area includes rural communities where the roads may not be quite as good as the ones in the city. Not to mention the noise. Even when safely stored in drawers, things still rattle around. Wall and ceiling liners make it easier to resell your van later and help deaden the noise.
  • Floors. Having a good floor makes it easier for your crew to move around inside a work van and avoid any slips and falls (we are dealing with water after all). Installed floors also help keep the van in better shape — a key factor when you want to resell it.

  • Partitions. Even with a well-organized van, a sudden stop will fling some items towards the front. Partitions offer a much-needed element of protection. Advantage Outfitters, LLC can custom-fit partitions for your van or fleet of vans. Noise-deadening partitions can also save you and your employees a lot of headache, quite literally, if your van and tool rattling can be noisy.
  • Shelving packages. We have many years of knowledge and experience when it comes to what plumbers are looking for in shelving units. Our plumbing shelving packages offer a variety of bins for all your plumbing tools and accessories and also includes gas bottle holders and a partition for safety.
  • Individual shelving units. Sometimes you don’t need a whole package. Individual shelving units may be just what you need to provide you with the storage space you want or to replace an older shelving unit.
  • Ladder racks. Need something for the top of your work vans? Looking for plumber's van racking ideas? What about places to store ladders, large equipment or other items? Advantage Outfitters, LLC offers a wide variety of ladder racks and work decks for the top your van, including drop-down ladder racks designed to give you easy access to ladder storage.

Advantage Outfitters, LLC Can Help Improve Your Bottom Line

When you’re better organized through the use of shelves and racks, you’re helping your business in a variety of ways. You and your employees are more efficient and can get more jobs done in a shorter period of time. All that time you used to spend looking for items in the back of the van can now be spent actually completing the job. Fewer trips back to the supply store means more customers whose plumbing problems have been solved quickly and are now more than happy to recommend your business to their friends.

Looking more organized and professional doesn’t hurt, either. A more organized van quite often leads to more recommendations and greater success.

Our motto at Advantage Outfitters, LLC is “Work Vehicles That Work Better.” Finding ways to improve the efficiency of your work van by using shelves, racks and storage bins is simply what we do. That means, when you come to us with your storage questions or want to know the best way to organize your work van, chances are good we’ve already solved that problem for somebody else.

But if that solution isn't the right one for your van or your business, we'll work with you to find one. We aim to turn your work van into a highly organized and efficient unit that contains everything you need to get the job done.

If you have a question about better ways to organize your van and the kind of shelving units you’ll need to accomplish that task, call our team of knowledgeable and experienced experts at 866-925-4844. Or visit our website where you can start a live chat or complete a form describing how we can help you and one of our representatives will get back to you as soon as possible.

Better yet, if you’re in the neighborhood, drop by and say "Hello!" We have two locations — 255 West St., South Hackensack, NJ and 107 E. Hawthorne Ave., Valley Stream, NY — where we can show you our products and talk to you about how they can make your business more efficient and profitable. We open early every day at 7:30 am because we know you’re working early every day and we don’t close until 4:30 pm.

When you’re looking for the best ways to organize your work van, talk to us at Advantage Outfitters, LLC!