The manufacturer of high-strength, lightweight racking and shelving systems has scooped the inaugural van converter award, James Dallas reports
Tevo occupies a special place in the Pantheon of What Van? Award winners through being the recipient of the first award voted for by our readers.
We added the Van Converter prize in 2015 to recognize the vital but often under-appreciated contribution that conversion specialists make to the light commercial vehicle industry.
As a pioneer of lightweight, high strength racking systems for vans and pick-up trucks, Tevo is a leading player in the field.
The firm’s commercial director, Paul Railston, says the award has provided “critical recognition” for the role racking producers fulfill in the LCV supply process.
“Converters are often overlooked,” he says, “we are a very important cog”.
Railston believes the new What Van? Award will raise awareness in the marketplace about the function of conversion companies, which he insists slip under the radar compared to manufacturers and leasing companies.
“Operators don’t think about conversions first,” he claims, but warns that with the increasing challenge to stay within payload limits due to the more energetic activities of enforcement agencies as well as weight gains caused by the likes of extra kit and Adblue tanks on Euro6 vans, they need to pay more attention to the type of storage systems they use.
Tevo is a pioneer of the lightweight, ultra-high strength steel racking systems invaluable for LCVs as they keep down the overall weight of the vehicle and impede less on the payload, making it possible to carry more tools and work materials without having to return to base to reload, thus saving time and money. Tevo points out that using lightweight storage drawers also cuts emissions and fuel costs.
Railston says the company is particularly proud of winning the award chosen by the What Van? readership because “ultimately the voters were the people who have experience of Tevo”.
Railston says demand for conversions has increased across the board from small businesses to large fleets since the market sank into the doldrums following the recession in 2008.
He says the recovery has seen a swing towards operators choosing to lease rather than to buy their vans with small businessess in particular choosing to take this route.
“We work hard with leasing companies and a lot of SMEs are now leasing,” says Railston.
With its headquarters in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, Railston cites the area from the Midlands to the south as Tevo’s stronghold.
He says utility companies provide 60% of the firm’s business with the rest coming from serving the requirements of small businesses and charities, such as the RSPCA, all the way down to individual traders like plumbers and furriers. He claims Tevo meets the needs of customers running anything from a single van up to fleets of 6000 and points out that as well as racking the firm also offers electrical lighting systems for load bays and a vehicle livery service. Tevo’s factory can accommodate 25 vehicles for vinyl wrapping and PDI (pre-delivery inspection) and valeting.
The introduction of European and national type approval rules have helped to push Tevo to the forefront of the conversion sector through its ability to meet the legal and technical requirements of the legislation.
“It has improved the professionalism in the market,” explains Railston. “We have invested in the business and got trust in our legal and operational compliance.”
Railston says Tevo worked with manufacturers, the VCA (Vehicle Certification Agency) and the SMMT to ensure it met all the type approval requirements and also to draw up the N1 Enhancement Scheme, which has enabled operators to carry out basic conversions, such as racking and ply-lining without getting full type approval because such alterations do not affect safety or emissions.
“It’s a light touch approach,” Railston says, which has served both LCV operators and converters well.
In fact Railston says the demand for EWVTA (European Whole Vehicle Type Approval) or NTA (National Type Approval) conversions is small and that the vast majority of Tevo’s racking work is covered by the N1 Enhancement Scheme.
“For the application of N1 Enhancement we are in the top two for the highest numbers,” he claims.
While Tevo’s core products are its racking and shelving systems it also fits tow bars, step assemblies, and electrical inverter systems for auxiliary power supply.
A key benefit of dealing with the challenge the type approval legislation presented, according to Railston, is that “it connected the converters to the OEMs who want reputable converters to do the job”.
In a sense Tevo is a victim of its own success: Railston claims 99% of its storage systems outlast the vehicles to which they are originally fitted, with small businesses in particular likely to refit the products three or four times.
“We would like them to buy new ones,” he admits.