Through the Eyes Of the Bold, Part 12

Now we are on to the Plumber Body in our study of the mix.
  • Contractor Body 10-15%
  • Combo Body 5-10%
  • Flatbed 20-30%
  • Service Bodies 30-45%
  • Plumber Bodies 5-10%
  • Van Bodies 15-25%
  • Dumps 5-10%
  • Other Bodies 5-10%
The Plumber Body is basically a Service Body with a roof on it, large rear doors and either a taller, walk-in height, or lower height roof. More often the dual rear wheel units have taller roof and the single rear with a lower roof from a popularity point of view (on dealers lots, anyway). Almost everyone that builds a Service Body now builds this kind of unit. Examples of manufacturers of this kind of Plumber Body are Royal Truck Body, Harbor Truck Bodies, Knapheide, Omaha Standard, Reading, Stahl, and others. So, there is a lot to choose from in this kind of Plumber Body and they are obvious with the compartments on the outside of the body.
Some of the Plumber Bodies are less like a Service Body and more like a Van Body. In this case, they don't have compartments on the outside, but have specific shelving designs on the inside. Examples of this kind of Plumber Body are manufactured by Hackney. And, last there are those who build dry van bodies and then convert them into Plumber Bodies by adding some boxes to the outside. These come from manufacturers like Supreme, and Intercontinental. Matter of fact, Supreme is the leader who built the Plumber Body market to the level it is today. Their product is severely limited in design, so others have come in and filled that need utilizing the Service Body with a roof design which offers superior design and features. My hat is off to Supreme for their creativity and foresight.
Using our same 25 upfit unit small stocking dealer, we will use 8% for this example, or 2 units. With 2 units, our selection has to be limited, so we will stock one single rear, low height Plumber Body. In this case, Knapheide makes a good model and is popular as well. They offer an electric door lock option for the body doors that is also very popular and they have a long list of options to choose from.
The second unit will be a 14' full height on a tilt cab and if I don't have a tilt cab available, I will do a 12' on an F350 gas dually conventional cab. The GVWR is limited on the cutaway chassis, and it is too easy to overload this truck. Though most dealers will stock the cutaway dually, here are the selling advantages of putting this body on the conventional cab:
  • The body is not attached to the cab, so you do not hear all the noise of the body and its contents moving around.
  • 1,500 to 2,000 lbs. more cargo capacity! That is huge!
  • A somewhat stronger frame, larger brakes, larger tires, a stronger truck.
  • Seat three comfortably. Wide bench seat.
  • Comfortable seating area with wide space for feet. No engine compartment in the way as is typical on the cutaway.
  • Better stability on the road.
  • Body is easily transferred to another truck chassis if need be, not so on the cutaway.
  • more
With all those features, it is a pretty easy sell and a much better value to the customer. The only advantages of the cutaway are two: 1. slightly lower entry height, and 2. slightly shorter turning radius. I think the benefits of the conventional cab outweigh the benefits of the cutaway chassis on the 12' or larger units.
When it comes to the tilt cab like the Ford LCF, Isuzu and so on, this unit is superior in a number of ways, but the biggest is the shortest turning radius on the market, even much shorter than the cutaway. What is really good about this, is that you can now get a larger body and still have a shorter turning radius. As an example, put a 14' Plumber Body on the tilt cab with about a 137" wheelbase (about the same wheelbase of a pickup truck) and compare that to the 12' on the conventional cab which has a wheelbase of about 165". Big difference, yet longer body. Here's the really cool part: the overall length of the 14' Plumber Body on the tilt cab is about the same length as a super cab pickup truck with an 8' bed! Seriously! Think about all that a customer can do with those features. Last is that it will turn a complete 360 in the average city street.
As your sales increase, or show a good turn, I would recommend that you bump up this mix a bit to add more Plumber Bodies. They are not just for Plumbers. Heating and Air people use them; remodelers use them, electrical contractors, and more. Any company who needs a Service Body could potentially make good use of the Service Body with a roof on it. Keeping things out of the weather and having the space inside to work in there if necessary, the storage shelving advantage, are all great features. Don't think of it as a Plumber Body--that's just what we agree to call it. Of course, plumbers use it too.
Get excited about the Plumber Body and get creative with what you stock and why. Get some selling advantages and see the value of this great body. Your customers will appreciate it.

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