Every fleet manager has probably wrestled with the question of whether it is more advantageous to maintain a fleet of service vans or a fleet of pickup trucks outfitted with truck caps. At A.R.E., Inc., manufacturer of fiberglass truck caps and tonneau covers for pickup trucks, it's an easy answer.

"There are a number of reasons why we believe a fleet made up of pickup trucks with caps versus commercial vans makes better economic sense for a business," said Todd Roberson, vice president of sales and marketing, A.R.E. "It all comes down to economics and practicality."

Roberson cited a company study, which concluded that pickup trucks outfitted with A.R.E. Deluxe Commercial Unit truck caps cost approximately $3000 to $5000 less than comparable vans in the same weight class. In addition to the start-up cost, pickups also yield a much higher trade-in value, he added.

"On a buy, that means less overall cost-per-vehicle, and on a lease it translates to lower payments overall," he said. "Plus, drivers surveyed said they preferred the safety, comfort and quiet ride of a pickup over a van."

A.R.E. makes two products specifically aimed at commercial fleets: the Deluxe Fiberglass Unit (DCU), and the EZ3 tonneau cover. The A.R.E. Deluxe Commercial Unit is made with rugged, fully welded aluminum frame construction for years of reliable service. And with more than 200 options including a variety of door and window configurations, colors, toolboxes, custom ladder racks, interior fabric liners, side panels and overall cap heights, A.R.E. has a commercial cap to meet virtually any job need.

The EZ3 tonneau with three fully waterproof doors, is the ideal truck cover for those who need clear rear visibility from the cab, as well as full access to the truck bed from both sides and the rear. It is particularly popular among pest control professionals, public utilities, and telephone and computer installers for their service trucks.

Both product lines can be painted to match the vehicle's factory paint. The DCU caps come with the company's one-year warranty on materials and workmanship. The EZ3 is backed by A.R.E.'s limited lifetime warranty, wherein A.R.E. warrants to the original purchaser all fiberglass lids and caps to be structurally free from defects in material and workmanship for as long as you own it. The painted finish of the fiberglass cap or lid also is covered under warranty against defects in workmanship and abnormal fading for as long as you own the product and the original truck.