In SmartVan’s “Cool Tool” contest last year, we asked readers to send photos of their favorite on-the-job tool, with a brief explanation about why that sledgehammer or Maglite or giant wrench was so crucial to getting work done. The SmartVan grand prize? An iPad 2.

Field Service Manager Chad Engle shows off his new iPad, courtesy of the SmartVanA lot of great submissions rolled in, including one video entry featuring a Swede and his sledgehammer, soundtracked by Johnny Cash’s “The Legend of John Henry’s Hammer.” In the end, though, Chad Engle’s power vac truck couldn’t be topped.  Recently we caught up with Engle, a field manager at Mit-E-Ducts in Zionsville, Indiana, to see what if anything he’d done with his iPad — only to find out he has seriously put it to work.

SEE ALSO: How the iPad Has ‘Revolutionized’ the Job for One Field Service Veteran

Engle admits he’s not the most technologically savvy person. But the iPad, he says, has fundamentally changed the way he works, especially as he’s transitioned away from in-the-field work to a more desk-bound role.

A Mit-E Tablet

“It’s helped out and made my job easier, because I’ve gone from doing more physical work to paperwork,” he said. “It’s made my transition a whole lot easier and smoother.”

Apart from easing his transition to the office, the iPad has also allowed Engle to better explain work to customers, many of whom don’t always understand what’s going to happen when a Mit-E-Ducts service tech shows up driving a giant vacuum on wheels.

“A lot of customers don’t know what truck lines are, for example. A visual helps a lot of them understand,” Engle said. “It helps break the ice with them.”

Engle also uses iPad’s camera to take “before and after” pictures and upload them to the Mit-E-Ducts Facebook page. He also uses the tablet to conduct estimates, scout customer problems and create maps of job locations, and then send all that info out to his techs.

“I think the company’s a lot more efficient,” Engle said. So efficient, in fact, that it inspired Engle’s uncle, who runs a heating and air conditioning company in Zionsville, to get in on the fun, too. After hearing Engle rave about his ‘Cool Tool’ prize, his uncle outfitted his five-person sales staff with iPads, ditching their old laptops.