Outfit After You Upfit


When it comes to upfitting a van for any trade, there are many tried-and-true elements that will always be on a tradesperson’s wish list. Shelves, roof racks, partitions, these are all things professionals everywhere agree are necessities for an upfitted work van. However, there are a wealth of additional accessories which will help to make your work van safer, more comfortable, and ultimately more profitable. 

Together with Steven Enriquez, a veteran tradesman with over 20 years of experience working as a service manager for Southwest Mechanical, an MEP contracting firm located in Covina, CA, we’ve compiled a short list of essentials when it comes to outfitting your upfit after the necessities are in place. 

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As the saying goes, time is money, and this could not be truer for tradespeople. Every minute of downtime runs the risk of negatively impacting the job you’re in, the one you’re heading to, or the one you’re trying to get. Though upfitting provides better organization and efficiency for you and/or your crew, there’s still one potential threat to any job’s profitability: other vehicles. 

“Traffic is a big part of it now. We work mostly in downtown LA, you leave [to get a part], you lose your parking spot, you’re stuck in traffic. That 15-minute drive could turn into an hour or a two-hour drive,” says Enriquez. 

While you’ve hopefully never had to experience the nightmare of rush hour in Los Angeles, this can be a common experience for any tradesperson working in a major metropolitan area. One thing that is strongly recommend if you live in an area which has the option, is paying for an express lane. RFID enabled transponders like E-Z pass in New York or FasTrak in Los Angeles can give the extra space in your schedule necessary to get to a job on time. 

“I wouldn’t put a vehicle out in the field without that FasTrak sticker” said Enriquez, emphasizing the importance of this fleet add-on. 


While there are almost no benefits to being stuck in traffic, one slight positive is the ability to charge tool batteries while on-the-go. 

“My guys work 24/7, they might have utilized all their batteries, and they haven’t made it home to put them on the charger, ” says Enriquez. 

Having power inverters installed as a standardized accessory for your fleet can have huge implications for both you and your crew’s efficiency by helping to avoid downtime while waiting for a charge and can also allow you to include the next two items in your loadout. 


Admittedly, this may be considered a bit of a luxury item, but why shouldn’t you and your team be as comfortable as possible? Creature comforts go a long way in making the workday easier and more enjoyable. Though there are a wide range of electric and battery-operated coolers available on the market, it is recommended to select one which utilizes rechargeable batteries so you can charge it overnight at the shop or on the way to the job. On a full charge, most models will keep their contents chilled for a full day.


Although this list so far has been quality-of-life improvements, portable toilets are one item you should not be leaving out of a work van. When considering the often less-than-favorable conditions that technicians and construction workers must contend with, it’s vital to have facilities available wherever a job will take you. This is especially true for plumbers, who are quite frequently working in places without functional plumbing. When nature calls, you don’t want to have to take time off your job to find a restroom, all the while potentially risking your relationship with your customer. Having a small portable toilet allows you to do your business near the job and can add a comfortable layer of privacy depending on whether your interior cargo space has a partition. Be sure to double check on any local laws regarding this, as your area may have prohibitions which you could risk violating.


At first glance, this may seem like a strange idea. When considering the ease of paperless reporting for record keeping purposes, as evidenced by the prevalence of QR codes on many report generating systems, advocating for a printer may seem like a step backward. 

“I know we live in a digital age, but the problem is that it takes a lot of time to search,” says Enriquez. “Whenever I’m on a jobsite, and I have my hand-written notes, customers are asking ‘oh, can I take that note?’ The ability to print out analyzed reports, is going to make you stand out.” 

While saving the customer or the green tech from navigating a potentially stubborn user interface can be one advantage of keeping a portable printer in your van, having the option to provide physical copies in the field can add an element of personalization to the customer service experience; something which is becoming increasingly more important. Small gestures like this can make all the difference when trying to distinguish yourself from your competitors.

While accessorizing your upfit isn’t necessarily mission critical, adding a few key items to your fleet can make all the difference in helping both you and your crew be more comfortable and profitable. Though everyone’s upfit needs will vary, these crucial add-ons will help you take your business to the next level.


Nick Mecir is the fleet development manager at AA Products Inc.


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