Cool work trucks: Conversions help make a good truck better

To builders, a truck is a tool, and no matter what bells and whistles comes standard or optional, there is always something you need that the truck doesn’t have. Greiner Buildings Inc., of Washington, Iowa, solves those headaches with customization.

Greiner Buildings

Currently the Greiner fleet includes five heavy-duty black Chevy Silverados and a white Dodge Ram that will eventually be phased out.

The ride of choice is the Silverado 3500HD crew cab with Duramax Diesel engine. Except for one standard-bed yard truck, the Greiners (father Tom and son Matt) typically purchase a cab and chassis unit, then send it off to a customizer in Mexico, Missouri called Ironstar Beds.

Greiner Trucks

“They put the flat bed on, they put the fifth wheel hitch in, they install the tool boxes and then they custom-make the ladder racks,” explains Shawn Redlinger, a lifelong friend, employee and stockholder in the Greiner business. Each crew truck, he goes on to say, is fitted with nine toolboxes, adding: “It still baffles me that with all the storage space we do have, there’s still never enough space.”

Greiner has been customizing its trucks for about four years and each time there have been changes to the design, but not as many as were needed in the beginning. “We use to do side boxes that would sit up off the bed and they’d get crushed by the fifth wheel if you pulled into a tight driveway,” Redlinger explains.

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There were also problems with scratched fenders and climbing into a bed too full of equipment to allow for easy maneuvering. Extra hooks for ratchets and straps to hold materials were added. Another addition was a catwalk to the center of the ladder rack to give crew a place to walk.

As well, the two center bars that extend down over the front of the cab to hold the ladder rack was given a redesign. “That white Dodge was one of our first ones, and the two bars come down in the middle,” Redlinger says. “Some of the guys didn’t like that very much so we decided to switch it and have those bars spread out for visibility reasons.”

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“There’s been little tweaks about every single time we [customize] because somebody wants it a little bit different to make it more convenient,” Matt Greiner adds. Greiner replaces its crew trucks about every 200,000 miles. There’s a running debate over the type of tires needed. “You have to decide between all-terrain for jobsite conditions, but with so many highway miles, you have to make it somewhat friendly for that as well,” Redlinger says, noting that the Greiner territory extends through eastern Iowa and western Illinois.

As post frame and steel frame contractors, there are lots of farm lots and newly developed jobsites to drive through. Greiner says they typically don’t order any special tire, but at least one set of Good Year Wranglers is still going strong after 75,000 miles.

Although customization is an added expense, Greiner believes that each customized pickup not only serves as a good rolling billboard for the company, it helps his crews work more efficiently while offering them a ride they can be proud of.

Do you have a truck customization tip that might help other builders work safer, faster or better? Let us know. Send a note, and if possible a photo to: sharon.thatcher@fwmedia.com.

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