This is the third outing for What Van?’s reader-voted Converter Award and each year has seen a different specialist pick-up the prize.
For 2017, the winner you have chosen is Trucksmith, following on from VFS last year and Tevo in 2015.
Trucksmith prides itself on being the pioneer of the Lo-Loader – a low-floored Luton van conversion, which it originally developed on a Renault Master platform. Other examples of the product are the Knee-Hi that the firm produces for Vauxhall on a Movano chassis platform, and the Canniloader that it places on the Fiat Ducato.
Trucksmith, of Cullompton in Devon, is also an official approved converter for Nissan, Peugeot, Citroen and Toyota.
The body-builder was founded in 1985 as a family-run business and now employs more than 100 people in facilities covering 64,000ft2.
Trucksmith’s conversions meet European Whole Vehicle Type Approval standards and customers can also rest assured that its products come with warranties matching those of the manufacturer.
It is not difficult to understand why What Van?’s readers voted for Trucksmith – the company has found a way around the traditional drawbacks of Luton vans, such as poor aerodynamics (causing higher fuel consumption), high floors (making the loading of large or heavy items difficult without an expensive, payload-impacting tail lift), and poor handling due to the high centre of gravity.
Trucksmith boss Dan Trebble explains: “We identified the limitations of Luton vans, such as the removal and delivery of large items, which are associated with floor height and payload.
“We have invested in new techniques to ensure all Trucksmith products achieve outstanding payload for their class of low-loading vehicles and offer a true loading height of just 550mm – only 450mm with air suspension.”
Load bay features include double rear doors that open to 270°, anti-slip plywood flooring, opalescent fibreglass roof panel to improve internal visibility and an interior lamp, plus a steel bulkhead to provide additional cab security.
Highlights for the body-builder in 2016 include taking an order for 14 Movano Knee-Hi vans from nationwide removals firm White & Company in August following a successful trial of two vehicles and extending its factory by 20,000ft2 following an investment of £1.5m.
The company claims the extension will accommodate the production of 25 low-floored Luton vans a week and allow further investment into research and development in manufacturing technologies, which Trucksmith says has been central to its success.
But the company is not all about its Lo-Loaders – it also offers bespoke body-building work and has recently built conversions ranging from ice cream vans to mobile libraries to horse boxes.
Highly Commended: Qi Van Systems
This year What Van?’s readers have propelled Qi Van Systems into the runner-up position.
The Telford-based firm produces a wide range of storage equipment and conversion solutions for small, medium and large vans as well as pick-up trucks. Qi is authorised by the VCA, the Government’s Vehicle Type Approval department, to undertake vehicle conversions under both the N1 Enhancements Scheme, covering LCVs up to 3.5t, and the N2 Enhancements Scheme, covering CVs from 3.5t to 12t.
The rapidly expanding company produces protective floor covering and side linings, interior LED lighting and load-system rails, multi-trade and specific storage solutions, fibreglass canopies for pick-up trucks, work lamps and beacons, personal protective equipment for welfare vans, tooling equipment, livery, and ladder and racking applications.