Which Truck is Right for You?

Factors to consider, beyond price, when making a purchase
Bethany Stough
November 29, 2013

For glass truck suppliers, the most popular questions from customers seem to be, “When will I get my truck?” and “How much will it cost?” But with constantly evolving truck and van designs, changing transportation rules and varying needs from one glass shop to the next, the question should be, “Which truck is right for me?”

When considering a truck purchase, ask yourself: What do I need my glass truck to accomplish? Glass trucks need to provide more than a way to get glass from point A to point B. Truck suppliers offer the following advice for consideration when determining what type of
transportation system is the best fit for your company.

1. Match the vehicle to the business.

Take into consideration the weight, size and type of glass your company typically transports. “Glaziers and glass shops should look for the best possible vehicle for their typical delivery destinations and type of payload,” says Michael Frett, sales director, MyGlassTruck.com.

For example, “a residential glass repair company or shower door specialist may require a smaller fuel-efficient vehicle, whereas a storefront company probably wants a 12-foot body allowing for large pieces of glass,” says John Weise, president, F. Barkow Inc.

2. Know the rules of the road.

After determining capacity needs, discuss the rules of the road with your supplier. Glass trucks are limited in how much glass they can carry due to Department of Transportation limits on vehicle width. Ledgeboards add to the truck width and can affect the amount of glass one vehicle is able to carry, says Alex McDonald, president, Unruh Fab.

“Everyone wants double-sided deep ledges and as much width as possible, but the physics limit us to the legalities of the road,” adds Paul Schodorf, co-owner, Schodorf Truck Body & Equipment Co.

3. Consider your geographic location.

If security is an issue at your location—or in the areas to which you deliver—vans or enclosed glass truck bodies are often best because of the added security an enclosed and lockable space can offer, Frett says. Enclosed bodies are also ideal for high-precipitation locations, as they “provide protection from elements for both glass and glazier,” he says.

4. Consider your customer.

McDonald notes the importance of considering how best to ensure clean, undamaged glass upon delivery. “There is always a risk of exposed glass getting damaged from dirt and debris as it is being delivered,” he says. “Some prefer to protect especially expensive glass by putting it behind a tarp or inside a van or enclosed body.”

5. Select the right rack: steel or aluminum?

Determining glass rack material also depends on needs, location and type of use.

“Where salt is on the road in the winter, many glass companies prefer aluminum [racks] to minimize corrosion,” McDonald says. “Aluminum racks tend to be lighter than steel ones and don’t rust, but aluminum is more brittle and less forgiving than steel,” potentially making aluminum racks less steady on rough and winding roads.

While a sturdy option, steel racks are heavy, which could potentially overload the capacity of a truck or van, Schodorf warns. He cautions customers that a heavy steel rack can cause excessive wear and tear on engines, brakes and tires due to the added weight. “The lower the maintenance and lighter the weight the better,” he says.

6. Plan ahead.

You need a glass truck that works for you now, and down the road. Consider where your company will be in the future, and how your transportation needs might change. “One mistake is purchasing new equipment that fits current needs instead of stepping up to racks or bodies with enough capacity to accommodate future growth,” Frett says.

“[Customers should] analyze their typical customer and where their business is going in the next two to three years,” Weise advises. “Figure out, as best you can, what your current and future needs are.”

7. Talk to your supplier.

It’s always best for glass companies to ask the experts before making a purchase, Schodorf says. “Glass shops should call whichever manufacturer they’re comfortable with and talk to them about what size capacity we recommend for what they want to do. We can provide answers to shops about how to get their job done with our product.”

To meet glass companies’ various needs, truck suppliers offer a range of trucks and racks. See the opposite page for some of the newest options available.

F. Barkow

“One trend we’re seeing is … glass trucks and cargo vans that you can stand and work in,” says F. Barkow’s John Weise. The Barkow Mongoose is a low-profile, lightweight aluminum, 9-foot glazing body with five extensions allowing for glass lites measuring up to 130 inches by 96 inches. Mercedes Sprinter, Nissan, Ford and Dodge offer similar, tall cargo vans so glass shop delivery drivers and glaziers won’t constantly bump their heads when inside. The taller, thinner profile also offers improved fuel efficiency to approximately 20 miles per gallon, Weise reports.
800/558-5580 | www.barkow.com


“Companies are looking for versatile glass transport systems that can accommodate mixed cargo, as well as faster, simpler ways to load,” says MyGlassTruck.com’s Michael Frett. The supplier’s Avenger curtain-side glass transport semi-trailer with front and rear platforms also features left and right exterior and interior racks. The rack can be quickly and easily loaded from either side, while also providing the protection of a van body when the curtain is closed, the company reports. In addition, the truck bodies and trailers have a wide range of interior racks and spaces for metal channel, boxes and tools.
800/254-3643 | www.myglasstruck.com


This Nissan Model NV 2500 High Roof is equipped with Schodorf’s Model L-20 aluminum rack, with fully adjustable poles and a complete ladder rack system. Paul Schodorf explains that the Sprinter van was the first to feature a tall roof, but during a bad U.S. economy, no one was buying the pricey, diesel-powered vehicle. In the years since, Nissan developed the NV 2500 with a gas engine and more competitive price. In the near future, both Ford and Dodge will also offer full-size, high roof vans with various wheel bases and roof heights, allowing glass rack suppliers to meet customer demands, he reports.
800/288-0992 | www.schodorftruck.com

Unruh Fab

“Double ledgeboards allow glass to be carried not only at the bottom of the rack but also higher up to maximize rack usage for smaller glass,” says Unruh Fab’s Alex McDonald. The supplier’s large, removable double ledgeboards provide strength, the ability to carry more small glass lites, and flexibility, it reports.
888/772-8400 | www.unruhfab.com




Stough is managing editor for Glass Magazine, GlassMagazine.com, e-glass weekly and e-glass products. Write her at bstough@glass.org.