Inside the City of Mesa, Winner of the Leading Fleets Award

July 2014, Government Fleet - Feature

by Shelley Mika - Also by this author

Photo courtesy of City of Mesa.
Photo courtesy of City of Mesa.

The new Leading Fleets awards represent the best in the public fleet industry, and the awards program recognizes high-performing operations in the areas of fleet leadership, competitiveness and efficiency, planning for the future, and overcoming challenges.

While there were 50 Leading Fleets, judges named the City of Mesa, Ariz., Fleet Services Department the No. 1 overall fleet. Pete Scarafiotti, CAFM, CEM, CPFP, fleet director and automotive engineer, City of Mesa Fleet Services Department, accepted the award during The Honors Celebration at the Government Fleet Expo & Conference (GFX).

"It's a humbling experience when you consider the great effort made by my colleagues in the competition. I know many of these fleets and their dedication and innovation within the industry," he said. "It is very gratifying to know that we are heading in the right direction; this industry award validates that our mission, goals, and direction are spot on."

The fleet approaches fleet management from all directions — taking challenges head on, dedicating itself to superb customer service, focusing on cutting costs, being an active participant in the community, and developing its own staff. Behind it all? Innovation. It continually seeks out new ways to improve its operation and actively embrace change.

"We are dedicated to innovation, looking within the organization to find all areas of opportunity, and then formulating action plans and goals to complete them," Scarafiotti­ said. "We have a culture that does not fear taking risks; we often branch out into untested waters to see if a new program or approach is both doable and rewarding for our customers. With fear of failure removed, we have become more emboldened to try new approaches. This might seem a bit risky, but we measure the risk, monitor our progress along the way, and know when to back out or move forward."

Overcoming Challenges

Like other fleets during 2008, the recession hit the City of Mesa hard. The city manager challenged each department to cut costs, and fleet decided to do so by reducing its size by 250 units. When planning this, Scarafiotti and his team aimed to see how they could make the most of the change.

"When we hit the bottom of the recession and reduced the fleet by 250 units, we had the foresight to look at using the reduction vehicles to replace vehicles that were soon scheduled for replacement; hence, we replaced vehicles that would have been purchased new with used vehicles that still had a number of years of life left to them," he said.

Fleet staff also placed low-utilized reduction vehicles into the daily rental pool to allow them to gain more utilization. And finally, staff took the residual units and sold them for badly needed revenue. "We learned hard lessons from the recession but at the same time used initiative and good business practices to morph the department into a more competitive operation," Scarafiotti said.

With operational and capital funding remaining as challenges, the fleet was again challenged with becoming a leaner operation. In the last year, the city reduced its fleet by 150 vehicles and identified another 200 potential low performers in the areas of cost and utilization.

Fleet staff also paired a number of other strategies with right-sizing. As the fleet reduced the number of units, it right-sized staff as well. It also partnered with other government fleets to assume their work, allowing the Mesa fleet to spread its costs over more units and thus reduce costs for internal customer departments.

Likewise, management took a close look at what work the internal operation could perform most efficiently, then moved other jobs to vendors that offered a cost advantage. And finally, by leveraging a third shift, it increased efficiency by providing more available labor hours during a 24-hour cycle, reducing a need for spare vehicles and equipment.

Catering to Customers

The City of Mesa's focus on operating a leaner, more efficient fleet didn't distract it from another important goal —providing superb service to customers.

"Customers seem to have two major concerns: cost and how long it will take to complete a repair," Scarafiotti said. To address both concerns, the fleet consistently benchmarks its performance to the private sector and publishes its statistics monthly so customers can follow its performance. To create better visibility into repair status, the fleet also provides an online utility that lets user departments see the progress of its repairs daily, and in a real-time environment.

Comment On This Story

Comment: (Maximum 10000 characters)  
Leave this field empty:
* Please note that every comment is moderated.


Public Fleet Tracking And Telematics

Amin Amini from Verizon will answer your questions and challenges

View All

Recent Topics

I have been tasked with implementing a small motor pool here at the City and need help on how to implement and manage it. I have a staff...

View Topic

We are planning on installing CO sensors in our FORD SUV Interceptor. Looking for choices as to what seem to work best.

View Topic

Fleet Documents

974 Fleet Documents (and counting) to Download!

Sponsored by

Emerson Parker established the basic methods and programs of the industry and played a vital role in establishing fleet management as a recognized profession.

Read more



Thi Dao
How Many Degrees of Separation?

By Thi Dao
The degrees of connection within any industry are less than six or four. Choose a handful of random fleet professionals, and I’d bet one of them knows someone you know or have worked with.

What's the Future of Transportation?

By Thi Dao

Managing a Police Fleet

Paul Clinton
Upgrading the F-150 for Off-Road Patrol

By Paul Clinton
Ford took the wraps off its 2018 F-150 Police Responder earlier this month and showed police agencies its latest tool for law enforcement work on more rugged terrain. Early feedback indicates that the truck will find a place with more rural agencies.

Managing High-Speed Pursuits

By Patrick Oliver and Samuel Kirchhoff

Next-Gen Fleet

Facundo Tassara
Rethinking Utilization: Using the Energy in Parked EVs

By Facundo Tassara
Think the return on investment for electric vehicles (EVs) is too long? Vehicle-to-grid technology allows EVs to earn money while parked by utilizing their large batteries to provide energy storage services for buildings, utilities, and the grid. This extra money can reduce the total cost of ownership of EVs.

Perception vs. Facts

By Facundo Tassara

Driving Notes

Paul Clinton
2018 Chevrolet Traverse

By Paul Clinton
The 2018 Traverse enters a crowded and intensely competitive category that pits two-row and three-row offerings in pitched battle. The generational update comes nine years after Chevrolet introduced the Traverse, and following two mid-cycle updates in 2013 and 2015.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

By Stephane Babcock

Nobody Asked Me, But...

Sherb Brown
Size Matters

By Sherb Brown
There is little doubt that the folks out there with 5,000-10,000 vehicles have a good handle on how much they should be paying; for everything from bucket trucks to sedan floor mats. But some of our recent survey data shows that vast hordes of the fleet market are paying close to retail rates for a lot of products and services.

Remembering the Coach

By Sherb Brown