The Magazine for LCV Fleet Operators
The words ‘it’s only a van’ represent a phrase that ceased being relevant years ago, says Steve MacDonald, managing director of leading utility van... A Van Revolution Has Begun

The ubiquitous van has now become an essential part of everyday commercial life and as we head into 2023, SMUK is leading this four-wheeled revolution.

Sometimes the obvious is staring everyone in the face but few see it, however, the company realised many years ago that there had to be a better way than throwing everything ‘in the back’, in the vain hope that it would be instantly available (and findable) on site.

That’s why SMUK, already the UK’s No1 in truck fleet safety systems, moved into utility van conversions seven years ago and today, with a turnover approaching £15m, the firm has three UK sites and 74 staff.

“We call them superior van conversions,” says MacDonald.

“Pretentious? Not at all because what we do is different. We give customers something totally bespoke to their needs. We are fanatical about getting it right first time!”

Creating a functional mobile work area is a must for on-site teams and these days, welfare vans can be equipped with a toilet, microwave, crew table, seating, phone, computer charging sockets or a raft of other add-ons including, quite literally, the kitchen sink.

“One size doesn’t fit all,” adds MacDonald, “and our experienced team of van designers and engineers spend days creating the perfect solution for each individual customer, whether they are buying one van or 100.” He recounts the earth-sampling company involved with HS2, the enormous project delivering enhanced rail capacity across Britain.

“Our client needed to complete soil tests at site, so we set about delivering a unique solution, creating mobile testing units on wheels – the perfect ‘lab’ van. They not only saved time and money, but meant the client’s teams could stay on site, delivering game-changing decisions for rail engineers in minutes rather than days.”

SMUK’s skilled team of engineers can offer clients a full turnkey solution, from the purchase of vans to full CAD drawings, interior commercial designs, full fit-out including lighting and extra power sources and even branding graphics. You might even opt for digital recording equipment so that you have an ‘electronic’ witness in the event of an incident.

SMUK’s engineers design van racking systems to meet exact needs: from securely housing equipment, to providing tailored ‘in-van’ electrical solutions such as those from Clayton Power.

“With our products manufactured to a high quality, our performance systems are built to last, keeping equipment safe as vans move from site to site,” said van conversion divisional manager Tom Fenton.

“Initially clients get together with our planning experts in a discovering meeting. They talk, we listen, a plan is formulated, an initial solution proffered and feedback taken again. This repeats until a definitive solution is agreed. And only then do we start the conversions. That’s how we get it right at the point of production,” said Fenton.

The discovering meeting might cover the equipment, power source and type of racking required so that each solution is logical, convenient, legal and well-thought out. And, by using the latest digital printing and design technology, SMUK can create eye-catching graphics to advertise your business.

“Every customer is important to us,” said MacDonald. “Whatever the size of the business, we give the same level of commitment. We find solutions that maximise van efficiency and optimise field time, whilst ensuring the working environment is safe and legally compliant.

“It doesn’t cost to be pro-active and it certainly costs even less to open a dialogue with SMUK.”