Options that help your department vehicle work better for you

Van interior

The interior side of this building maintenance services van was upfitted with a steel cabinet and shelving system. Photo provided.

Upfit: add a new or customized feature to an existing product

About 18 months ago, transportation services began upfitting vehicles it leases to Iowa State departments. And while it's not quite Pimp My Ride, the product possibilities are extensive: snow plow blades, ladder racks, running boards and nerf bars, canoe racks, tonneau and hard shell pickup bed covers, and trailer hitches for the exterior; racks, shelves, cabinets, seat or bench removal, and special mats inside.

Some upfit projects are practical needs, some are "wants" that make the department employees' jobs easier or more efficient, says Butch Hansen, shop manager at transportation services.

"Tell me your wants or your needs, tell me your budget and I'll try to help you," he said.

Hansen said the process begins with a call to him. He puts together a bid and the department chooses to accept it, modify its request or decline the upfit. Hansen said the cost of the upfit can be worked into a department's monthly lease payment, so there isn't an investment up front. The department receives another vehicle to use during the time its leased vehicle is being upfitted.

Department vehicles typically are on three- or five-year leases from transportation services.

Upfits you could share

Three minutes into a conversation with Hansen, it's apparent that he's not in the "no" business, but he admits to some limits to what his staff can do to department vehicles. ISU's practice is to keep vehicles in the fleet for 10 years or 100,000 miles before they're sold at a public auction. Which means there may be multiple lessees over that vehicle's university life. Alterations and additions made to fleet vehicles should be standard enough that another user would find the change advantageous, too, Hansen said.

For more information about upfitting your department's leased vehicle, contact Hansen, 4-7552.