“In some areas near the lake, I've never seen driveways so steep,” says the owner of 15-year-old Stahl Plumbing & Heating Inc.
About a year ago, Stahl looked into adding a safe and maneuverable service vehicle to his fleet, but he also wanted one that afforded adequate storage capacity. He found all his amenities in his Dodge Sprinter.
With a choice between two heights and three different lengths, Stahl was able to purchase a van that holds his array of faucets and disposers, as well as large pipe lengths and drain cleaning machines, all accessible while standing up in the cargo area.
The Sprinter's large size and capacity is deceiving, though, says Stahl. It isn't affected by higher winds as one might think; its suspension is top-rate. And it is extremely maneuverable, even on tight turns or narrow roads. Hilly roads and steep driveways for Stahl's two additional service technicians are a breeze now.
The van's high driving position gives the driver high visibility. The controls are accessible, offering a comfortable ride.
The five-cylinder Mercedes diesel engine is zippy, according to Stahl. It also saves the company money in fuel costs. “The fuel economy wasn't one of the main reasons we bought the Sprinter, but with gas prices the way they are now, I'm glad we did,” says Stahl.
The interior of Stahl's Sprinter has been modified with a fabricated “tunnel” to store pipe in cut and uncut lengths, so they're not exposed to the elements outside the van. Other bins and racks were purchased from Weatherguard, and the van is restocked daily.
For the exterior, Stahl Plumbing decided on an understated paint job, keeping the van mostly its original white, but giving it a bit of flash and fun at the wheelbase with water splashes, resembling a hot rod flame.
“We wanted to remain a professional-looking company, without plastering the side full of graphics,” says Stahl. “We liked our conservative logo and added the splashes to have the overall look relate to plumbing.”
But it's the van itself that catches the eye of potential customers. The Sprinter's modular structure and unique height and style make it stand out when parked at jobsites.
“You can't help but look at it on the road,” Stahl admits.