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Meet Steve Adickes: Painting Contractor & 2019 Winner of an Adrian Steel Upfit


Steve Adickes of Adix Painting has 30 years of painting experience. His journey began as a way to make extra income during his summers off from teaching. Today, Steve is still a teacher at heart! His goal is to provide each customer an educated, one-on-one experience that achieves their vision. Regardless of who is watching, Steve is always out to set the highest possible industry standard for quality and service.


Adix Painting Logo

Recognized for several years by American Painting Contractor (APC) as a “Top Job” winner, Steve came in first again in the 2019 contest for his work on a home renovation project in Phoenix, AZ and was also named the winner of the Fit You Whip contest, sponsored by Adrian Steel and hosted by APC.


American Painting Contractors Logo


As part of this distinguished honor, Adrian Steel was proud to help Steve boost his efficiency with a customized work van upfit built around his daily work habits. Read on to learn more about Steve’s upfit journey with Adrian Steel and Commercial Van Interiors, an Adrian Steel Certified distributor.


Quality Work, Cluttered Work Van

With a returning clientele of happy customers, Steve often found himself in a work van that quickly became cluttered toward the rear doors with items he reached for often on the job. He even went so far as to devise a kneeling device that allowed him to lean in and reach more tools beyond the back-end clutter!


Looking into Steve Adickes’ unorganized work van from the rear doors.

Bungee cords, tension rods, and shallow shelving left a lot of room for shifting cargo, stacked equipment all over the floor, and excessive time spent looking for the right tool for the job at hand. Steve knew there was a better way to organize his van that would allow him to reach the supplies he needed quickly and free up some time in his day.


An interior view of hanging paint rollers, spray bottles, and painter’s tape inside Steve Adickes’ unorganized work van.


In addition to untidy equipment and supplies, any open floor space is where stacked ladders ended up, creating an unusable aisle and restricting access to larger items. Upon meeting with the experts of Adrian Steel and Commercial Van Interiors, unused rooftop space was identified to get those ladders up and out of the way!


Top of Steve Adickes’ work van before an Adrian Steel ladder rack was installed.


The first step of claiming his prize of a custom upfit from Adrian Steel was to meet with the cargo management and organizational experts onsite in Phoenix, AZ. Watch the first episode in the Fit Your Whip contest video series:


Fit Your Whip Video - Part 1


Evaluate and Educate

Steve met with Bob Snow of Adrian Steel and Michael Miller of Commercial Van Interiors to evaluate his needs and the upfit equipment that would make the most sense for his business.


“When you do interior, exterior, dry wall work, stucco work – to gear up and carry all those things for a project, the van has to be kinda like a little warehouse to a point. But then we get into efficiency, my stress is changing out the equipment. Things have got to go in and out in an orderly fashion. There are always ways to improve on that,” said Steve Adickes.


The team started with a run down of Steve’s likes, dislikes, what he has in the van, and what he’d like in the van. Steve’s first goal was to increase accessibility.


“There’s just those days, say, I’m bringing in the big pressure washer or a bigger sprayer and you’re loaded – if I didn’t think ahead time [on how to organize it], it gets overwhelming,” said Adickes.


At Adrian Steel, we often see tradesmen that have a hard time letting go of the idea of carrying every single item they have because they don’t want to get to a job site and not have it. That’s why we help them look at the opportunity cost of carrying everything versus operating a more streamlined, efficient work van to save time and money on the job.


“A way to begin the process of getting more organized is to really understand the 80/20 rule. What 20 percent of cargo that you’re carrying, tools, and consumables, are you using 80 percent of the time,” said Bob Snow of Adrian Steel. These frequently used items should be placed near the side and rear van doors for quick and easy access.


To get started, the organizational team pulled everything out of Steve’s van and started to design a custom upfit to drive more efficiency, save more time, and increase safety.


“He’s going to find out he has a lot of extra time on the job after we’re done [installing the new upfit],” said Michael Miller of Commercial Van Interiors.


Equip for Success

With all cargo, supplies, and old shelving removed the expert team of upfit installers got started on turning Steve’s work van into an efficiency machine.


Steve Adickes looks at his newly installed, custom Adrian Steel upfit for his work van.


Benefit #1: More Storage

Like many painters, Steve had a need for small supplies to be readily accessible. Steve’s custom upfit includes brand new shelving on the inside of the rear cargo doors, additional drawers, a blue bin system, deeper shelving, and a ladder rack. Eliminating existing cubby holes gave Steve a lot more storage with a smaller footprint.


Benefit #2: Better Accessibility

One of Steve’s challenges was accessing his equipment and supplies with ladders racks piled in the aisle.  The addition of a 3-bar ladder rack got his ladders up and out of the cargo area, while keeping them easily accessible and providing even MORE room for additional ladders and equipment. The new shelving, door storage, and ladder rack allowed Steve to organize his most used items near van doors while still giving him plenty of accessible space toward the interior of the cargo area for large items.


“It’s just what you need, when you need it,” said Miller.


Benefit #3: Reduced Risk of Injury

With a place for everything and everything in its place, Steve no longer has to stretch, kneel on a make-shift shelf, and reach for supplies each time he makes a trip to his work van. Clearing out the aisle way will help reduce slips, trips and falls when Steve is getting into or exiting the van. Additionally, secured cargo means less shifting while in transit.


“Your van will speak to who you are as a business owner and how you do your work. I guarantee there isn’t another package on the road built and designed this way, based around the conversations you had with Michael and his team {Adrian Steel Certified Distributor] to understand what you needed out of your van,” said Snow.


“It is definitely going to give me a more professional [look] and approach on a job site when I open it up,” said Adickes.


To hear more from Steve on his work van upfit, watch the second episode in the Fit Your Whip contest video series:


Fit Your Whip Video - Part 2


The Road to Better Efficiency and Safety

APC followed-up with Steve a month after his custom upfit installation to see how the new van makeover was helping him with efficiency on the job site. Here’s what Steve had to say.


“In a house, [when you’re] doing painting, moving ladders, you’re constantly thinking how can I do this more efficiently, faster, better, safer? So, it’s like running through your brain all the time,” said Adickes.


The new upfit has made a huge difference in how Steve works out of his van by keeping all the everyday items within reach and leaving plenty of room for hauling large equipment when it’s needed. Minutes saved searching for frequently used items adds up!


“There’s less having to move around because there’s more space in the middle. Probably by the end of the week it [the new upfit] saves me 5-6 hours,” said Adickes.


The ladder rack has allowed Steve to free up space on the interior of his work van and carry additional, longer ladders when needed on the job site – something he wasn’t able to do before!


“I’m the envy of some of the other painters now a little bit,” Adickes joked.


Watch the final episode in the Fit Your Whip contest video series to hear more from Steve Adickes:


Fit Your Whip - Part 3


About Adrian Steel

Adrian Steel manufactures contractor-grade products and storage solutions including shelving, drawers, cabinets, partitions, ladder racks, aluminum toolboxes, and accessories. Beyond manufacturing, our dedicated Customer Care Team and a network of highly qualified Adrian Steel distributors can have your vehicle upfitted at a location convenient for you!




Find a distributor near you to get started today on designing a custom upfit.


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