Finding the Right Maintenance Balance: Small Fleets Speak Out

Small fleets, often with a wide range of vehicles and equipment and a small staff, have their own considerations for maintenance. Four small fleets discuss their right-sourcing techniques.

March 2012, Government Fleet - Feature

by Thi Dao - Also by this author

The City of La Verne, Calif. handles most of its own maintannce work.
The City of La Verne, Calif. handles most of its own maintannce work.


Town of Salina Highway Department, N.Y.
Number of units: 63
Number of technicians: 3
"We try to do as much as we can in-house," said Joel Lamb, crew supervisor.
  • Spring repair.
  • Tire work.
  • Computer-related repair issues.
  • Repairs requiring special ­equipment.
How do you feel about managed competition?

"I'm not concerned because I think we operate efficiently." Lamb explained that when he took over in 1986, the town was spending $120,000 annually on repairs, with six technicians employed. He focused on a strict preventive maintenance (PM) schedule, oversaw the purchase of various new equipment over a five-year period, and was able to reduce annual repair cost to the current $85,000, with three technicians.


City of Signal Hill, Calif.
Number of units: 75
Number of technicians: 1, with some work done by the fleet supervisor
"We outsource very little here. Our bread & butter is preventive maintenance (PM), and we don't have a lot of unforeseen repairs," said Sean Lynch, fleet supervisor.


  • Major repairs such as transmission work.
  • Tires for heavy trucks and equipment.
  • Time-consuming repairs.
  • Repairs on the City's four compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles.
How do you feel about the services you're providing to the City?

"We take pride in the fleet. It's a small fleet. Our main goal is keeping our customers happy with quick turnarounds and prioritizing," Lynch said.



Sabine River Authority of Texas (Orange, Texas)
Number of units: 169
Number of technicians: 4
"The only thing that we outsource is major repairs on vehicles. All other repairs, service, brakes, tires, etc., is done in-house. We find it gives us a closer look at the vehicle each time something is done to it, be it service or repair," said Keith Hogan, fleet, safety & inventory manager.
  • Tire services for heavy trucks and equipment.
  • Major repairs such as for engine transmissions.
Why do you think the balance at your facility is a good one?

"For us, in-house [servicing] gives the technicians more opportunities to go over a vehicle and see if anything else needs to be repaired or maybe addressed at the next service," Hogan explained.



City of La Verne, Calif.
Number of units: 157
Number of technicians: 3
"La Verne has been pretty lean from the beginning. We do more with less," said Dave Johnson, fleet superintendent.

  • Tire work if it's time-consuming.
  • Body work.
  • Transmission work.
  • Specialized or very large repairs.
How do you feel about managed competition?

"We're not worried about it," Johnson said. The administration and City Council "rely on us, and they know that what we have here is the minimum for doing what we do."  Johnson stated that auditors are often impressed with the efficiency and cleanliness of the operation. He also said he'd been able to reduce administrative time by implementing an automated fleet management system.


City of La Verne, Calif., staff.
City of La Verne, Calif., staff.



  1. 1. Ken Overton [ March 08, 2012 @ 02:38PM ]

    Very interesting article, we have 191 pieces of equipment (trailers, light and medium duty trucks, along with the PD. We have a supervisor and one mechanic with a repair budget of a little over 300,000 for the 11/12 fiscal year. We outsource all tire work, glass work, body and paint work, and HD diesel work. We replace our own transmissions and most all other work to include the some electronic work on the PD LED lighting and control systems along with gun locks etc... We also take care of about 45 small tools (tampers vibrating sleds, generators, etc...) in addition to the vehicles and equipment. When you are a small entity you have to make do with what you have and our mechanic (Dan) is very effective and inovative in his repairs. He also does a good bit of fabrication where repairs are costly or replacement parts are hard to find.

  2. 2. Gloria [ April 02, 2012 @ 06:23AM ]

    For those of you doing in house maintenance I commend you on strategically on innobative repair jobs. Although curious...what type of diagnostic tools are used that can help detect up and coming issues? I'd like to introduce PH2 Validator to your repair/service person responsible for vehicle inspection compliance for emissions. Seek us at


Comment On This Story

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


Fleet Management And Leasing

Jack Firriolo from Merchants will answer your questions and challenges

View All


Public Fleet Tracking And Telematics

Amin Amini from Verizon Connect will answer your questions and challenges

View All


Fuel Management

Bernie Kanavagh from WEX will answer your questions and challenges

View All


Recent Topics

Is a bachelor's degree truly necessary in order to become a fleet manager, or does achieving certification as a CAFM or equivalent carry...

View Topic

Hello to all the members I am checking to see if anyone is using a company for GPS/AVL called Fleet Complete (AT&T)? I would like to...

View Topic

Fleet Documents

1134 Fleet Documents (and counting) to Download!

Sponsored by

The name given in the UK to a lease financing arrangement where the vehicle appears on the lessee's balance sheet and where the lessee has the option to purchase the leased asset at the end of the lease term for a nominal amount.

Read more