I am curious to know if anyone would recommend a van to purchase? The purpose of the van will be for deliveries and pick ups of furniture and material. I am not sure if a Caravan is an option or a small cargo van? I would love to hear pros and cons.
Freddy, I used to have a van but went to a box trailer. With the van, for any thing other than small pieces, it is very hard to get them in with out help, and most of the time it's the larger pieces that customers want delivered and picked up. I work alone and can load the trailer with a cart and get most pieces in and out with out help. A trailer is way cheaper and will last way longer than a van. You can put your advertising on the sides of the trailer, it's like having two free bill boards.
Freddy, This all depends on budget. As mentioned the sprinter vans are an excellent choice for a furniture maker, lots of interior room. They are not as expensive as one may think. Much cheaper than a well equipped pick up truck. A caravan can be found used in the c/v version which was basically a small panel truck. I would not get one with high mileage which may be impossible to find. Another option is a used rent a truck(hertz, Penske, etc.) I know a plumber that goes thru one of these about every 5 yrs. A small enclosed trailer is also a good idea, but you will need a truck to pull it anyway. Something to consider, I believe you are in the Boston area, is parking and accessability. This would be much harder with a trailer in tow than a van. Nissan now makes a cargo van that is basically a smaller version of the sprinter van. I have no exp. with these but Nissans are generally good vehicles. Again it all depends on budget and long term plans with it, leasing may even be an option that would be right for your needs. good luck kerry
I have an old('96) ford full extension passenger van. I have had it for about 13-14 years and bought it used with very little miles. I take all the seats out of the back except the front one. I can still fit a 4 by 8 sheet of pywood in the back with the front seat in place. 12 and 14 footers slide in easy right up between the two front seats. For a long time it was used for work and family( I have two boys) and now I have a third car and my van doesnt get to much use. Gas mileage pretty much stinks on all vans. I have never had a need for a large box truck. Majority of my work is delivered by a mover where I either include that in my price or the client uses theirs.
Cherry Brook Woodworks
Your best bet for your area and your need for your size of deliveries might be a small GMC all wheel drive Mini Van. Your comment "material" will be a consideration. I have a Ford 2003 passenger van with windows all around. I like to see all around. I only go in the city when needed. It has NASTY iron brackets to support it's bench seats which like to bite feet. I do like windows all around so I can see for those quick in and out deliveries in the city! Lots of newer mini vans have doors that open on both sides. Buy a newer van with a TV in th back to show your clients what you have to offer.
I like the passenger vans and the ability to see all around as well. I wish mine had tinted windows though. I have the rubber mat throughout the van-no carpet. With those nasty seat brackets, I put a few 2 x 4's on edge and then screwed a piece of plywood on top. It makes for a nice platform to slide things in and out.
Go to craigslist and search cargo van. I have a Chevy Astro AWD that like. the Ford Econolines are good as well. Find the price that fits your budget and the size for your needs. Most of them are white.
My friend has an old Ford E250 utility van. He has let me use it a lot for moving heavy machines, long boards, etc. You can put a whole load of 15' boards in it, with about 2 - 3' sticking out the back door. The heaviest machine we put in there was 2,200 lbs. The main limitation would be height, I don't remember how tall the ceiling is. You should be able to find an old contractor's van for not too much. It might not have heated seats, but it will get the job done!
Having grown up around trailers, trucks, and vans (In addition to farming my dad ran a hauling service, which he does full time since retiring from farming) I have seen them all. Being a builder you are probably only moving a few pieces at once. So if you want something a small enclosed trailer with an 8' ceiling would be the best to buy. If you buy one with an aluminum frame it will outlast you if you maintain it.
But if it were me I would hire movers to deliver pieces. Say it costs $200 for them to deliver a piece. This may seem like a lot, but when you figure a trailer will cost about $5000 that's 25 deliveries. When you add in the cost of insurance for the trailer, registration, tires, brakes, repacking wheel bearings, etc. you are spending a lot for the trailer. If you buy a van those costs go up.
Plus a mover is a professional mover. You make furniture, he's probably no good at building furniture, why would you think your good at moving? He will have a large truck, dollies, carts, padding, experience, and most importantly insurance. If a piece is damaged while being moved and it takes you 10 hours to fix it, if you were moving it you eat those hours. If the mover does it he has insurance to pay you. Plus that great customer just turned into an ass because of the tiny nick in their paint and wants all the trim repainted.
If it were me, when ready to replace whatever your driving now, I would buy a pickup with a small V8 and put a cap on the bed. this will allow you to move small things that are a one man job (I'm thinking chair sized stuff). It will also allow you to pickup materials. Buying a V8 will allow you to rent a trailer for bringing thing to shows. If your in the city get a truck with a 6 1/2' bed otherwise the 8' bed is great for hauling. Get a tall cap, this will give you some flexibility in what you haul.
This of course is my opinion and worth twice what I'm charging!
Here is a little more information on why I want to find a van. For the past two years I have been doing a ton of restoration and refinishing. This year alone I have repaired, refinished, re-glued, and reupholstered about 400 chairs. These chairs range from period chairs to Hitchcocks. About every week I make a delivery of about 8 chairs, and wish I had more room for deliveries. Then there is the roll top desks, high chests and sideboards that take up a ton of room
I think a trailer is great, but boy in Boston in those tight streets a trailer won't work. I have been fighting with myself to get a van for I can use it for purchasing plywood and lumber. For I hate getting material cut to rough size by the distributors. I am also trying to decide if I should get a van and just use it only when necessary, versus an everyday vehicle.
My concerns is also that several furniture makers in my area have complained about transmission issues, on newer chevy and ford vans. Nissan now offers a series of vans and may take a peak.
Craigslist is a great idea and something I need to do. Hiring a delivery crew is a thought and have been getting items delivered, but boy in Massachusetts it can be tough to find a dependable delivery crew.
I myself use a pickup truck and dodge the rain. But I will pass along some thoughts from another restorer.
He has a big van (with all-around windows) that he has probably hauled nothing larger than a card table in for years. If the move involves anything that is too big for him to pick up (easily) by himself he has a local antique moving company do it for him. The cost is added to the customer's bill. His rationale is simple. He is paid to fix furniture, any time away from the shop cuts into that. Arranging appointments and making deliveries to suit other people's schedules also interrupts work flow. These costs need to be considered in addition to the direct vehicle costs.
It sounds to me that your business is large enough to merit considering an outside delivery service.
I have finally upgraded to a Dodge Grand Caravan with the seats having the ability to folder under the floor. Why did choose this? Well its more efficient in gas, it rides better then a cargo van, and I have seats for anyone I need to join me on a job. Lastly I compared volume of space and a cargo van is a just a tad smaller then 1500 chevy van, and I save 10-15 thousand. I love it and the van has landed me more jobs because of it.