The upfitted 2015 Ford Transit vans feature shelving, racks and a slide-down ladder.

The upfitted 2015 Ford Transit vans feature shelving, racks and a slide-down ladder.

Part of keeping your business up-to-date includes modernizing your fleet vehicles. By upgrading to newer vehicles, fleets can take advantage of new technology features and more fuel-efficient engines.

Matt Tieva, co-owner of Northland Mechanical Contractors, updated more than half of his service fleet with one order: 15 brand-new 2015 Ford Transit cargo vans.

Running a fleet of 25 service vehicles in the Twin Cities market, Tieva’s fleet mainly consisted of Ford E-350 vans — 21 out of 25 vans were 2008 model year or older.

“We needed to modernize our fleet,” says Tieva. “We held off buying new vehicles post the Great Recession. We were waiting for more economic certainty.”

The Ford Transit first caught Tieva’s attention for its fuel savings, especially since each of his fleet vehicles puts on at least 30,000 miles per year. While Transit models are more expensive than E-Series models, Tieva figures he’ll make it up in fuel savings, an expected 25% gain over the outgoing E-Series vans.

One Dealer

With the help of his local Ford dealer (New Brighton Ford), Tieva signed up for a Ford fleet account, which provided him fleet incentives that resulted in better pricing than he received in the past through buying retail.

New Brighton Ford is part of Ford’s Business Preferred Network, which helps dealers address the needs of small fleet customers. For Tieva, his dealer’s commercial fleet sales team was able to answer all of his fleet-related questions.

By factory ordering through a fleet dealer, fleets do need to think ahead — but only have to pay for the options they want. For his Transits, Tieva added Ford’s Sync for hands-free calling and a backup camera for safety considerations.

In addition to purchasing the vans through a dealer, Tieva has found it more convenient and cost-effective to align maintenance services with the Ford dealer network.

Because Northland’s technicians drive the vehicles home at night, it is easier for them to go to their nearest Ford dealer for maintenance appointments. Tieva also mentions the convenience of Ford dealers’ longer service hours to work around his technicians’ schedules.

“We try to run a satellite fleet,” says Tieva. “Because we don’t garage the vehicles at night, it’s too hard to have an in-house mechanic at the company. We would spend more time and money to get the vehicles back into our location for maintenance checks.”

Up and Running

After receiving all 15 Transits in July, Northland had 10 up and running as of mid-August. With the help of Stonebrooke Equipment, each van has been upfitted with shelving, racks and bins and a slide-down ladder.

So far, the technicians have been pleased with the new vans — from the extra 12 to 16 inches of head room to the EcoBoost engine to the smoother driving experience, according to Matt Peterson, Northland’s warehouse manager.

Compared to the smaller E-350s, the Transit’s extra cargo space has led to a more organized storage area where technicians can stand up and walk around. “It’s like being in a store,” says Peterson. “With more shelves and compartments, technicians can find their tools faster.”

Not only does the extra space allow for more organization, but now the technicians can carry everything they need in their Transit vans. This means fewer trips to the warehouse looking for the right part, says Peterson.

Peterson says the Transits are like walking billboards. “It will help get our company name out there,” he says. “It’s a beautiful-looking van.”

About the author
Amy Hercher

Amy Hercher

Former Senior Editor

Amy is a former senior editor with Bobit Business Media's AutoGroup.

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