Efficiency On Wheels
A lot of contractors dream up reasons for wanting to invent the ultimate truck for their business. For Brad Davis, the main reason for creating his masterpiece was to get the job done, and done well.
“We would just as soon not do a job if a customer simply wanted a bandage approach,” says Davis, owner of Monrovia, Calif.-based Artisan Plumbing Systems since 1986. “We load this truck up with everything you can possibly imagine, park it and it doesn’t move until the job’s done, or it’s too dark to see.” Even if daylight runs out, Davis stores 80 feet of construction lights to work past sundown.
Davis designed his truck from stem to stern to make the maximum use of space and time. “Supply house time is lost time. Having what we need when we need it is a money maker. We can do a couple of 2-1/2 bath repipes and do nothing more than get in the truck and go.”
Davis’ truck helps him do that. He’s a full service contractor, working on anything from drain cleaning to commercial retail ground-up installations to remodeling.
The Grand Tour“The basic design of the truck is modeled after the old “tract” trucks, but all the nooks and crannies of this vehicle make it stand out far above the rest,” says Davis.
Just behind the driver’s side door is a Collins Thread-O-Matic 22A pipe machine, which slides out from its stowed compartment and locks into place.
“This area of the truck produces mucho amounts of productivity,” Davis says. A holder above the threading machine stocks pipe nipples ranging in sizes through 2 inches, including 1/2-inch and 3/4-inch brass. Pipe wrenches hang nearby, along with a wire brush and dope can. At both the front and rear bumpers are sliding pipe holders to hold the ends of up to 2-inch steel pipe.
A gutter, welded to the outside of the body collects oil from the pipe machine, keeping the 4-foot long shelved storage bin below neat and clean. The door that encloses the pipe machine, as well as all the other flip-up doors on the truck, are outfitted with gas-charged shocks that open with just a tug.
Just behind the pipe machine is another handy innovation.
“Typically a truck’s storage area just holds open bins, with at most a few bi-fold doors to cover them,” explains Davis. “Our truck’s storage area is fully enclosed with one door, keeping our tool boxes out of the weather and out of sight.”
Continuing on, at the rear of the driver’s side is an area for Davis’ acetylene tank, mapp tank and CO2 bottles. All of them can be chained down. Adjacent to this is an upright hyco-bar/plate-strap holder that graduates in length to accommodate 12-inch through 26-inch bars. The very lower portion of the truck contains enclosed storage bins. In particular, at the rear curb-side is a four-trayed, slide out, storage bin. “For all those items plumbers usually mix all together in a coffee can,” explains Davis. “But not here. These compartments are scoop trays filled with everything needed to properly complete a job.” Tek screws, slip nuts, washers, nuts, bolts, W.C. shims, angle stops, you name it, it’s probably there.
Behind that bin is a chain vise, which can be easily stowed away. While in use, this vise can hold 21 feet of up to 4-inch pipe thanks to the slide-out pipe holder at the front bumper. This vise can also be lifted out and replaced with a Ridgid “mechanics” style jaw vise.
Moving on, you’ll see two more enclosed storage areas. “We keep absolutely everything under the sun in these that is most likely to be used in any repair/remodel job,” says Davis. All four doors on the bins are 4 feet, 6 inches long by 24 inches wide. They hinge on the outer side of the truck at the top and at the bottom, so the top two doors flip up, and the bottom two fold down — great places to rest an invoice or read plans. The bottom areas hold everything from strap-up materials to fluids and fittings. All along the top area is where copper fittings are stored by the box. Toward the back of the truck, over the driver’s side bins, is a 5-inch deep by 10-foot long storage bin, used only for scrap pipe. This same side has vertical storage “rocket launcher” sockets that store anything from shovels and rakes to picks and brooms.
“Everything is there and ready to go,” says Davis. “No tools and materials rolling around on the bed twisting your ankles. Things are up and out of the way.”
The curb-side rear of the interior is left for holding up to three 40-gallon water heaters upright. Davis says it’s also a great place to store cast-iron tubs.
Moving back toward the front of the truck, a 4-foot wide by 30-inch by 30-inch flip top box holds vises, short shovels, a chop saw and other extras you want to keep out of the weather and out of sight. Take two steps up and you’ll see a pipe rack, which runs from the front bumper to the rear. ABS and steel pipe are stored on the pipe machine’s side of the truck in this rack, copper and PVC have an area on the other side. The rack has removable cross bars for bigger jobs when several hundred feet of pipe may be necessary to keep on hand.
The front of the rack has 12 feet of “walkable” space. “This is particularly useful in large drive-in buildings where we have worked off the top of the truck to hang pipe,” explains Davis.
And this tour wouldn’t be complete without one last Davis innovation — a holder, directly over the cab, made for 2- to 6-foot long fiberglass ladders. “One slides out to the port and one to the starboard,” explains Davis, who says this saves time from having to climb in and out of a truck to get a ladder.
Painted along the sides of his truck is Artisan Plumbing Systems’ logo, a long drain pipe with an eye-catching sewer camera cartoon. In addition the truck promotes his phone number, e-mail address and some of the types of work his company does.
“Take one look at this truck, and you’ll see why I use the phrase, ‘Your Full Service Plumbing Contractor,’” says Davis, who believes his truck definitely sells jobs. “The way you present yourself seems to be half the battle,” explains Davis.
As for the other half of that battle, Davis has some future plans up his sleeve.
“My immediate plans are to design a basic cube truck.” Davis wants to hire a welder to help with his design ideas. “I should be able to do it for substantially less than a production model would cost — and I’ll end up with a welding machine to boot!”
After attending Maurice Maio’s “Seeing Is Believing” seminar this past month, Davis is confident he will expand his business as well as design a cube truck to end all cube trucks. “But for now,” says Davis, “this truck, a smaller truck and a couple of pick-ups are working quite nicely.” And he is especially proud of his ultimate truck.
“It’s a magnet for anyone who appreciates a decent vehicle to practice their craft,” Davis explains. “It can be a bit bothersome at times though,” jokes Davis. “I keep running out of rags to remove the drool.”
Find out more about Artisan Plumbing Systems at www.plumbers.cc, or e-mail Davis at Brad@plumbers.cc.