How to Organize Your Work Van

In Partnership with Elkay

Have you ever let the mess in your work van or truck get out of control? It takes you (or the unlucky apprentice) 20+ minutes to find a tool that’s buried underneath a box of fittings that’s buried underneath a stack of pipe. You can hear everything shifting in the back when you’re driving – or worse, your power tools decide to rev up at the most inopportune time and wreak havoc across the truck.

Maybe you’ve already hacked the code and found the perfect way to organize your work vehicle. But if you’re insanely busy – and we know that you are – and need a quick guide, SUPPLY.com and Elkay are here to help. We asked around and picked up some quick tips on ways to keep your van together and your job less stressful.

organize work plumbing van

Recommended Vehicle: The Ford Transit Cargo Van

We’ll go over everything in the diagram above, but let’s start with the main ingredient for an organized work van – the van itself! We found that our PROs are partial to the Ford Transit Cargo Van. The main pull with the Ford Transit is the amount of cargo room. It’s so spacious inside that you can fit in everything you need for your portable warehouse.

Tools and More

The best way you for you to sort tools and materials in your van will depend on your specific tastes and job tasks, but in general it’s a good idea to have easy access to whatever you use those most. Below are a few add-ons that we find helpful.

Ameri-Bin Storage System

Don’t underestimate the power of nicely labeled storage bins. These are very beneficial to the plumber who needs to carry around small parts like nipples and valves. We like the bins on Americanvan.com because you can filter your search by vehicle type – we were able to shop for bins specifically made for the Ford Transit we mentioned earlier. 

Veto Tech Pac Tool Bag

Veto bags are designed specifically for tools to be safely transported. The compartments within the bag make it easy to keep everything separated and in the proper place. The backpack style with top strap makes the bag the perfect choice to keep in a truck – you can easily hang it up on a hook right by the door of the truck and grab on the way to the job.

Interior Ladder Rack

We love the idea of an interior ladder rack because it keeps the ladder secure and out of the way but easier to reach. Keeping the ladder inside the van is a safer and less expensive option than attaching it to the side or the roof of the van.

Take a Break

If you’re always on the go, eating a quick bite in your van may be the only way you can get some lunch. Though your priority is an organized setup for your tools, it’s nice to add a bit of comfort. One way to do this is by adding a small microwave for hot lunches. We recommend getting a 600 watt microwave (like this Commercial Chef one) and a 1000-1200 watt pure sine wave inverter (like this one from the Inverter Store) for a van like the Ford Transit.

Van Security

Unfortunately, plumbing vans are often prone to thievery. With so many online seller options available, the greed for stealing expensive tools runs high. While you can’t totally out rule the possibility of getting robbed, there are several ways to help cut it down. Factor in these security options when planning the organization of your van.

Window Screens

Keeping windows secured will greatly reduce the amount of break-ins. Depending on the model you have, you may only have windows up front or may have them along the side. The Ford Transit van has tinted glass, which helps hide the valuables inside the van.

Slick Lock Turn Key Kit

Adding as many slick locks (or “hockey puck locks”) as possible to the outside of the van may be a hassle, but it’ll be worth it if you can save your tools.

Python Alarm System

Even the sight of an alarm system will ward off burglars who don’t want to run the risk of getting caught. This Python alarm comes with a remote control that works within a one mile range. Just install and you’ll be good to go!

Spray Paint Your Tools

While you may not want to deface your own tools, spraying an ugly coat of paint across will discourage thieves who won’t be able to resell imperfect goods. Even if anyone is able to get inside your van despite all the precautions you’ve taken, they will be deterred by tools coated in paint and likely leave the scene altogether.


There are some very nifty criminals out there who may find a way to take your tools or even your van no matter how hard you try and stop them. We recommend insuring your van and tools, so that even if something is taken, at least you won’t lose all of the money you invested.

With proper storage and security, you will be able relax about one part of your job that you shouldn’t have to worry about. You’ll be prepared and efficient on the job, plus you might get some compliments on your van’s new storage system! There are many ways to customize your van to your liking, but we hope that these recommendations will give you a good place to start. Good luck organizing, PROs!