We talk with Shaunessy with The Hignell Companies about his van and how it gets best fit for the day-to-day plumbing jobs, with plenty of internal storage and materials arranged for easy removal, in case what is scheduled one day differs from the last.

  • Shaunessy’s Chevrolet Express is fit with shelves and hangers to carry an assortment of plumbing materials and tools.
  • The ladder rack works well but the ladder can stick out behind the van.
  • A higher-ceiling would helpfully offer more space for movement and storage.
  • His van has a smaller V8 engine for light towing.

Q: Do you like the storage in your cargo van?

A: The shelving in the Chevrolet Express van is good, but you want to be able to move stuff around, so we put things in and take things out based upon what we’re doing for the day. Things don’t quite stand up completely, so you have to be creative in the way that you store things and put things together. I store mostly plumbing parts, PVC, iron pipe, copper, toilet parts, shower valves, and faucets.

Q: Are there storage options that you’re really happy with?

A: We add some hoses for draining water heaters for hanging my electrical cords. I do like having the little bins, I like having the shelves. Having these portable tool storage boxes makes it a lot easier than having the bins full of small parts where you’re constantly having to try reach over and grab stuff that’s way inside of the van. Working in a van full of parts makes it difficult to get in.

Q: What do you think about the drop-down ladder rack?

A: The good part is the ergonomic part of it: you can get the ladder off, and it’s not a problem getting back up. The only issue is this sticks back a little bit beyond the end of the van, and you’ve got to pay attention when your driving.

Q: What additional features do you wish your van had?

A: I wish I had a rack on the roof so you could put pipe inside of it. And that stuff you can order and have installed as well. If you’re going to try put 20 feet on a 12 feet roll, rolls of piping, it’s going to be difficult to get that to stay on top.

Q: Does this van have the roof height you need?

A: It would be nicer to be able to get in if it was higher, kind of the occupational health aspect of it. When you’re putting a 40-gallon water heater that’s been in there for some time, it’s a little bit cumbersome to not be able to stand up and pull that up and get it in. If you have to lay down and get it in, getting it out you need two people. You have to get on your knees to get in to get parts.

Q: What other advantages come from a high-roof van?

A: If I want to grab something from the middle of the van, I have to get on my knees, jump over stuff to get in there. It makes it a little bit more difficult. With the ProMaster van, you can put in three to four water heaters standing up inside there. I put full bathtub and shower enclosures in that tall van. So, that makes it easier.

It’s also nicer the fact that if you’re working during the day and it’s raining, you want to be able to go inside and maybe take apart a faucet or take apart a sink, you can then take that inside the van, work inside somewhere where you’re not getting rained on. We use some easy-ups so if I’m working outside and I have to work off the back, it’s nice to have a platform and I’ll put an easy-up in this area or put a drop cloth or something across the top so the doors are kind of helping.

Q: Do you like the hinged doors?

A: The only part that’s a draw-back is having double doors that open on the side instead of a sliding door because it just limits the amount you can get in there. It kind of gets irritating if the door’s falling on you so your constantly pushing them back.

Q: What kind of motor does your Chevrolet Express van have?

A: It’s got the smaller V8 motor in it so it’s a little light when it comes to towing, things like that. I would like to have a Chevrolet Express 3500, with a little more towing capacity.

Q: What trailers and equipment does your van tow?

A: Typically, I tow a dual axle dump trailer, also hydro excavation, a vac trailer, and we also do ditch witches and small excavators as well.