Using dump trucks for design/build crews means materials can be carried inside the dump bed, while a trailer pulled behind can carry all the equipment and tools needed on the site.
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Design/build crews often have an array of tasks when they’re on a jobsite. Because of this, there is often a large collection of tools and equipment needed by the same crew each day as the project progresses.

When it comes to keeping your crew’s equipment, tools and supplies in order, a lot of it depends on the vehicle you store it all in.

“When I’m sending a crew to a jobsite, I want them to go there with as many things they need as possible,” says Michael Spatola, general manager and landscape designer with Ross and Jack’s Landscaping in Elmhurst, Illinois.

To handle this, Spatola’s design/build crews drive dump trucks and pull trailers. The dump truck carries the materials while the enclosed trailer houses the tools and equipment.

“So, when they get to the job site, they not only have the equipment they need, but they’ve also got easy access to the materials,” he says. If the crew runs out of materials, they’re able to easily unhitch the trailer so one person can drive the dump truck back to the supply yard while the rest of the crew keeps working.

Dump trucks allow crews to carry raw materials, tools and equipment in one trip.
Photo courtesy of Ross and Jack’s Landscaping Inc.

Travis Self, owner of Rose Valley Custom Landscaping & Construction in Muscotah, Kansas, says his crews use box trucks for design/build jobs.

“They’re really nice if you can afford to have a truck designated to a certain type of work,” he says. “If you have one for just decks or one to do just landscaping or one to do just retaining walls, it makes your jobsite a lot more efficient.”

Self’s company orders the box trucks and then customizes the inside, setting up shelves and other retaining systems to fit exactly what they need.

“Lumber’s cheaper than metal shelving,” he says, adding that members of his crews are able to build everything themselves. “We’ll go ahead and set them up the way we want them.” That allows them to make shelves that fit the exact tools they need to hold, and leave the right amount of space for machines on the floor.

Spatola’s company is able to customize its trailers as well, and his crews also do most customization in-house.

“The reason we do that is because each crew is going to be working with different materials,” he says. “We have skilled guys who know how to do that stuff. Installing the shelving and everything is not that hard to do, and you’re going to be paying a company a way higher labor rate if you have them do the custom things.”

He says the only thing they customize prior to purchase is the length, width and weight capacity of each truck.

Efficiency is key.

Self says the one downside of a box truck over a setup like Spatola’s is the ability to carry all supplies, resulting in lower deliver fees.

“I wish we could haul,” Self says. “With all the tools and stuff we haul, we really don’t leave a lot of room for raw materials with us.”

Spatola says the efficiency of the dump truck-trailer system is a plus for his crews.

“For the type of work that we do, I think it’s way more efficient to be able to drop tools off without having to unload everything – having that truck free to go get material or move material on the jobsite.”

At the end of the day, Self suggests doing your research so you know what setup works best for your design/build crews.

“Research the brands as to what you’re going to need,” he says. “Research the engines. Really, you just want to do your research on what will work for you the best.”