If you use cargo vans in your business, you make your purchasing decisions based on your company’s unique needs.  Each business owner evaluates his or her specific requirements, and then shops for a utility van that meets their needs. But it’s rare that the owner would find the perfect commercial van upfit in a showroom somewhere.

There’s also some terminology that needs to be clarified, like what is the difference between a van upfit, a van conversion and a custom van. So let’s take a closer look at which van is which and how these types of vehicles can help meet your particular needs.

Van Upfits

Here’s where a van is upgraded to increase its space, accessibility and its versatility. This may include installing accessories or components that are customized to the van’s specific dimensions without changing the van’s overall design.

These accessories may be for the actual workspace, including ramps, racks or ladder racks, air vents, safety features, back up alarms, bulkheads, and cabinets. If you need a commercial van to transport passengers, it can be customized with luxury seating, wheelchair accessibility and privacy partitions.

Van Conversions

A conversion is a specific set of features that are added to a van based on a customer’s unique needs. It can mean simply reconfiguring a van with custom features or converting an ordinary van into a wheelchair accessible vehicle. Often, customization will change the vehicle’s structure or core components, so it’s important to make sure you buy from an experienced conversion van manufacturer that meets or exceeds Federal safety standards and offers a warranty of at least 3 years or 36,000 miles.

Custom Vans

Unlike van upfits or van conversions, everything in a custom van is customized based on the customer’s unique needs and specifications. This includes the style, dimensions, accessories and options that will be installed in the van.  If you have unique needs or require a completely redesigned floor plan, a custom van is the right choice.

Shopping Tips

Ok, now that you know the terminology it’s time to go shopping. But before you head out the door, there are some questions you should ask yourself.

First up is how long will the van be required to last? Do you need to transport a lot of heavy tools or many small parts? Do you need to transport a work crew? If you’re doing a van upfit, do you require heavy-duty steel construction or a ladder rack?

The answers to these questions will provide a pretty good idea of what you’re going to need. Also, check to see if there are any incentives available from the conversion van manufacturer or van upfitter. 

Options to Consider

If your van needs to be configured to carry cargo, work crew or both, there are some options you may want to consider. Van upfit options can include a retractable ramp featuring a 2-ton capacity, air vents, automatic power sliding doors, wall inserts, a 2000-watt power inverter and many more.  

Some upfits offer optional features like stainless steel or galvalume interior walls that have mounting points for all types of equipment.  Begin by making a list of your specific needs, consider how you’ll want to configure the van for work purposes and start shopping.