“Precision Workplace on Wheels” Boosts Independent Dealership Efficiency
8 mins read

“Precision Workplace on Wheels” Boosts Independent Dealership Efficiency

At the 2024 Precision Farming Dealer Summit, Charles Hadacek, precision specialist at Iowa-based independent dealer Premier Technologies, demonstrated the unique benefits of using a “workspace on wheels”—a cargo trailer converted into a mobile workspace equipped with dozens of organizers and bins for all the equipment a precision specialist could need on the go.

Premier Technologies, based in Alden, Iowa, has just two locations, which means Hadacek spends most of his time on the road. The mobile work station helps Hadacek manage inventory, reduce risk and also provides an easy way to transport equipment when responding to repair calls.

Premier Technologies’ customer base in Central Iowa is pretty crowded, Hadecek says. “Our radius is about 150 miles, and we have about 300 active customers in that area. So a lot of our business is neighbor-to-neighbor.”

Since most of his business is done on the road, Hadacek believes it’s important to be self-sufficient during the workday and not have to return to one of his stores for a part he forgot so he can continue working. While some might opt ​​to use a pickup truck to haul supplies and equipment, Hadacek disagrees.

“We had a really hard time operating from a pickup truck,” Hadacek says. “It was small. It was crowded. These systems that we’re implementing are getting more and more complicated. When we order a planter system, it no longer comes in a couple of boxes; it comes on pallets. So we had to be able to haul more to our jobsites, so it just fit better.”

“Precision Workplace on Wheels” Boosts Independent Dealership Efficiency

Welcome to the mobile office and workspace of Charles “Chuck” Hadack, a precision engineer at Premier Technologies in Alden, Iowa. The cargo trailer has dozens of organizers and bins for various cables, harnesses, clamps, connectors and more. It also has a full workbench and toolboxes with everything Chuck might need on the job.

Second Generation Trailer

At first, the trailer the company used “was nothing more than a trailer you could find anywhere,” Hadacek says. It had the basics, like benches, tool boxes, a vise and lighting. But after three years, it was practically falling apart and it was clear it couldn’t handle the rigorous daily work Preimer demanded of it. Hadacek decided to buy a new trailer, which he calls “Generation Two.”

“We have our wiring, service unit controllers and modules underneath,” Hadacek says, describing the trailer. “And then we have the toolbox and the toolbox in the front, and our equipment and different adapters. It’s pretty well organized. We use the rest of the area to store our installation parts when we go on jobs, because we’re out in the country all day. We try to schedule three or four jobs, sometimes five, depending on what they are, during the day so we don’t have to come back. We fill that trailer with stuff and then we just use it throughout the day.

“We went from a flat nose to a V-nose on the Generation Two trailer,” Hadacek adds. “It gave us a little more room up front for our tools. It fits a little better. Our workbench is still on the right side, as is our access door. That trailer was wired for 12V and 120V. So we have a 12V battery that charges off the truck. We have two sets of lights on there, so if we don’t have access to an outlet to plug in the trailer, we can plug in the lights and still use some of them. It’s not enough to charge or run anything other than the lights.”

Third Generation Trailer

Unfortunately, there was an accident with the old Generation Two, which forced the company to upgrade it again to the “Generation Three” in 2019. Hadacek says it’s mostly the same as the previous trailer, albeit with some minor differences in the interior. The trailer is now in constant use, having covered over 90,000 miles as of January 2024.

“That trailer is hooked up to the truck 80 percent of the time because I’ve had experience unhooking it,” Hadacek says. “I throw a quick toolbox in the back of the truck and then I don’t have everything I need. If someone else calls, I have to go back to the shop and hook it up anyway. Most of the time, it’s much more convenient to leave it hooked up and run everywhere. Even for small things, because you don’t really know what the next call is going to be.”

Describing some of the features they added to the trailer, Hadacek mentions how instead of the usual wood, they covered the floor with epoxy to make it more durable. He also stresses how important it is to have the trailer sealed from dust, especially in Iowa, where he often travels on gravel roads.

The toolbox contains key tools such as cable clamps and connectors, as well as spare wiring. Hadecek also stores RAM mounts, steering adapters, and anti-rotation kits in the trailer. The trailer includes several shelves inside to hold all the gear.

Happy Trailer, Happy Life

Hadacek says the key to keeping a workplace on wheels is maintenance, upkeep and management.

“As far as maintenance goes, there was a month where I think I used two sets of tires on that trailer,” Hadacek says. “I was just collecting nails, doing stuff. So I have two spare tires that I keep, one in the office and one in the truck at all times for that trailer. Happy trailer, happy life.”

He also says it’s important to remember that pulling a trailer all day can cause wear and tear on your truck.

“That trailer is very tough on trucks,” Hadacek says. “We had an F-150, a half-ton truck, before it lasted about five years and was about to fall apart. So this year we bought a bigger one, a 3/4-ton. It seems to be holding up a little better. The trailer is like a giant sail, and in any wind, you’re just being pushed around, and it’s tough on the rear ends and the engines.”

Hadacek says the main obstacle that can’t be avoided is the distance from customers. Constant driving is often the nature of the beast.

“We don’t travel very far with this trailer, but we get really congested, so we bounce from neighbor to neighbor,” Hadacek says. “I know every year is a little different, but it seems like every year there are always a few days when you’re just driving back and forth across the state.”

For and against

Hadacek notes that being in the trailer and being able to sit on a bench while working is a great advantage. He admits, however, that there are some drawbacks.

“It’s very difficult for vehicles,” Hadacek says. “Fuel consumption sucks. Maneuverability, that’s also difficult because a lot of farmers have treasures everywhere. Trying to maneuver around some people’s properties is a little bit difficult and sometimes a challenge.”

In addition to vehicle wear and tear, it highlights the issue of inventory management and tracking.

“Management is sometimes difficult because we have three guys,” Hadacek says. “Everyone grabs a cable, and managing where it comes from so we don’t lose it while we’re working can be a challenge.”

Premier Technologies has assigned one person to take care of the trailer, so everyone doesn’t just take the equipment and lose sight of it. Hadacek explains that’s his role for most of the work.

“I try to document every part or real inventory that comes off the trailer,” Hadacek says. “I created an Excel spreadsheet that I share with everyone. If we’re building systems or trying to enter inventory orders, we know exactly what level the trailer is at. That makes stocking it a little easier.”

Hadacek stresses the importance of taking care of his equipment and trailer, and admits it’s a lot of work. Still, he’s all for using the rolling workspace, as it’s proven to be essential to his shop’s success.