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7 Rules For Organizing Your Work Van

After much trial and error, remodeling contractor Zack Dettmore has found an organizational strategy that works

Over the course of my career as a remodeling contractor I’ve owned a few different work truck setups. I called an old van my “work truck” for a while, and upfitted it with a customized pullout tool storage rig. It did a sufficient job at hauling our tools around, but materials were always a hassle. I then hauled a trailer behind a traditional pickup for several years, but I learned over time that this isn’t a great option for the narrow roads and heavy traffic we contend with daily. As my company grew, my needs for tool storage did too, so a little over a year ago I bit the bullet and invested in a 3500 Ram ProMaster. It has plenty of room for tool storage, my guys and I can walk down the center aisle to easily locate tools and materials, and there’s tons of room to haul things like sheet goods – all without subjecting anything to the elements.

It took one of my lead carpenters and me about 5 days to upfit the van. I estimate that having things organized saves us each about 10 minutes a day based on previous experience with other companies, and old setups we had. Now, it takes us less than a minute to find something in the van. So, for me, the investment upfront in buildout and the organization is all worthy investment for the long-term. Because I’m fanatical in my need to be organized, I improved upon my various setups and settled on seven rules for organizing that hopefully will be of some use to those with similar work trucks.

<p><strong>1. </strong>Place large/bulky items near the doors. For example: Mitersaw, table saw, planer, etc.</p> <p> </p>

1. Place large/bulky items near the doors. For example: Mitersaw, table saw, planer, etc.

Photo courtesy of Dettmore Home Improvements
<p><strong>2. </strong>Make a labeled spot for <em>everything</em>! For example: Caulk bins, paint brushes, sand paper, etc. Label an empty spot for extra clutter that would otherwise clutter the floor.</p>

2. Make a labeled spot for everything! For example: Caulk bins, paint brushes, sand paper, etc. Label an empty spot for extra clutter that would otherwise clutter the floor.

Photo courtesy of Dettmore Home Improvements
<p><strong>3.</strong> Build task-oriented tool boxes with all the tools needed for that specific task. For example: our drywall patch kit has a 6” knife, setting compound, tray, tape, and sanding sponge.</p>

3. Build task-oriented tool boxes with all the tools needed for that specific task. For example: our drywall patch kit has a 6” knife, setting compound, tray, tape, and sanding sponge.

Photo courtesy of Dettmore Home Improvements
<p><strong>4.</strong> Keep multiples of tools you use frequently and leave one in each box that might need them. For example: we have multiple utility knives or tape measures sprinkled throughout boxes.</p> <p> </p>

4. Keep multiples of tools you use frequently and leave one in each box that might need them. For example: we have multiple utility knives or tape measures sprinkled throughout boxes.

Photo courtesy of Dettmore Home Improvements
<p><strong>5.</strong> Group tools/tool kits together for efficient tool gathering. For example: we keep all our sanders and abrasives in one stack; the stack is easy to grab making all the tools needed for any given sanding task on hand quickly.</p>

5. Group tools/tool kits together for efficient tool gathering. For example: we keep all our sanders and abrasives in one stack; the stack is easy to grab making all the tools needed for any given sanding task on hand quickly.

Photo courtesy of Dettmore Home Improvements
<p><strong>6.</strong> Make everything easily accessible with no latches, tie downs, clips, straps or items stacked on top or in front of the item you need. For example: everything should be accessible in a single quick motion – step-grab-go <em>not </em>step-move-reach-grab-move-go</p>

6. Make everything easily accessible with no latches, tie downs, clips, straps or items stacked on top or in front of the item you need. For example: everything should be accessible in a single quick motion – step-grab-go not step-move-reach-grab-move-go

Photo courtesy of Dettmore Home Improvements
<p><strong>7.</strong> Make it easier to put things in the correct location than in the wrong location. For example: I want my laziest crew member (laziest with respect to staying organized; in my case, it’s myself) to be able to effortlessly put things back where they belong.</p>

7. Make it easier to put things in the correct location than in the wrong location. For example: I want my laziest crew member (laziest with respect to staying organized; in my case, it’s myself) to be able to effortlessly put things back where they belong.

Photo courtesy of Dettmore Home Improvements