Recognizing the 2015 Leading Fleets

July 2015, Government Fleet - Feature

by Staff

Many of the Leading Fleets award recipients
are pictured here after The Honors Celebration
at the Government Fleet Expo & Conference (GFX) on June 10. Photo by Gene Tewksbury.
Many of the Leading Fleets award recipientsare pictured here after The Honors Celebrationat the Government Fleet Expo & Conference (GFX) on June 10. Photo by Gene Tewksbury.

The Leading Fleets awards program recognizes 50 public sector fleet organizations for their leadership, efficiency, and vision for the future. The award, open to public fleets, encourages fleets to strive for excellence. In addition to the rankings for the top 20 fleets, the award also recognizes fleets in size categories to distinguish the differing challenges fleets of various sizes face.

This year's award is sponsored by Ford.

No. 1 Small Fleet (499 or fewer assets: City of Ventura, Calif.

The City of Ventura, Calif., has a fleet of 394 units. The city sits along the coast between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara and provides services to 109,000 residents.

“By providing clear direction, setting expectations for outcomes, recognizing accomplishments, motivating and encouraging fleet staff to embrace changes in technology, and empowering them to use their own judgment when completing maintenance and repair of vehicles, we have fostered an environment of open communication, teamwork, mutual respect and trust, all with an element of fun,” said Mary Joyce Ivers, CPFP, fleet and facilities manager.

Its vision is to continue expanding into repair and maintenance projects currently being contracted out, such as fabrication, vehicle upfit, and refurbishing. Fleet also hopes to offer its services to other government and non-profit agencies.

This is the second year the City of Ventura fleet was awarded the No. 1 small fleet award. Photo courtesy of City of Ventura
This is the second year the City of Ventura fleet was awarded the No. 1 small fleet award. Photo courtesy of City of Ventura

No. 1 Mid-Size Fleet (500-999 assets): Orange County Sanitation District, Calif.

The Orange County Sanitation District in Fountain Valley, Calif., provides wastewater collection, treatment, and disposal services. The special district has a fleet of 670 vehicles.

“We are honored to be recognized with these awards. The award process has helped identify our fleet’s strengths and opportunities for improvement. Actively listening to our customers, networking regionally and nationally, and being active members of MEMA and other associations build relationships that help us continually learn and grow,” said Nick Arhontes, director of facilities support services.

In the next five years, the team expects to expand telematics use and confirm key performance indicators (KPIs) are on target. Fleet will continue to support technicians with technical training, licensing, certification and tuition reimbursement, and development pay.

The Orange County Sanitation District has programs to motivate and make staff more successful at their jobs. Photo courtesy of OCSD
The Orange County Sanitation District has programs to motivate and make staff more successful at their jobs. Photo courtesy of OCSD

No. 1 Large Fleet (1,000 or more assets): City of Boise, Idaho

The City of Boise, Idaho, Fleet Services manages a fleet of more than 1,500 vehicles. In addition to being the No. 1 large fleet, the city’s Fleet Services is also the No. 1 overall fleet in the Leading Fleets program. For more information about this operation, click here.

The City of Boise has been an ASE Blue Seal shop for 15 consecutive years. Photo courtesy of City of Boise
The City of Boise has been an ASE Blue Seal shop for 15 consecutive years. Photo courtesy of City of Boise

The top 20 Leading Fleets (including ties) are ranked below.

1 City of Boise, ID

Contact: Craig Croner
Units: 991 on-road; 523 off-road           
Staff: 15
Maint. Facilities: 3         
Overcoming Challenges: Fleet was challenged with determining the potential savings of leasing major equipment versus purchasing. Staff concluded that leasing equipment would free up budget in the short run, and with low interest rates, would result in only a slightly higher total cost of ownership over the lease period. Staff members worked with the mayor, City Council, and the legal team to identify legitimate language allowing the city to utilize lease funding to procure new equipment. The successful use of lease funding created cash flow savings of $739,000 during the first year, with additional savings in future years.

2 City of Sacramento, CA

Contact: Steve Barker
Units: 1,771 on-road; 580 off-road
Staff: 74
Maint. Facilities: 6         
Overcoming Challenges: Fleet wanted to consolidate data on driver performance to increase employee awareness of how driving behavior impacts sustainability and collisions. Fleet implemented a pilot program with Remote Vehicle Analytics (RVA) and installed 150 devices on vehicles. The city achieved 20-25% fuel savings since implementation and will retrofit 400 additional vehicles with RVA.

3 City of Tulsa, OK

Contact: Brian Franklin
Units: 2,444 on-road; 635 off-road
Staff: 79
Maint. Facilities: 4
Overcoming Challenges: The fleet was losing skilled technicians due to retirement and low pay. To resolve this issue, a temp agency recruited candidates in advance of known vacancies; positions were advertised before they became vacant; overtime work was assigned; workload and staffing levels were balanced between shops; and more repairs were outsourced. As a result, 2014 fleet availability stayed level with the prior year. Meanwhile, a job study is expected to improve staff pay and help retain more technicians, and high school students interning at the automotive shop are being recruited for permanent employment.

4 City of Fort Worth, TX

Contact: Wayne Corum
Units: 2,811 on-road; 729 off-road
Staff: 106
Maint. Facilities: 3
Overcoming Challenges: The fleet had a problem with getting fuel transactions from its 43 manual fuel sites and 20 automated fuel sites into the fleet management system in a timely manner for the preventive maintenance (PM) program. Fleet began seeking vendors to award a contract within this year to automate a large group of manual sites and some of the automated sites that have old systems. The new system will more accurately monitor fuel inventory and update transactions quicker for better PM.

5 County of San Diego, CA

Contact: Sharyl Blackington
Units: 3,700 on-road; 280 off-road
Staff: 59
Maint. Facilities: 8         
Overcoming Challenges: Fleet’s biggest challenge was to overcome a loss in direct labor hours due to unanticipated employee absences. Last year, direct labor decreased by 4,000 hours, resulting in a loss in revenue of more than $420,000. In collaboration with Human Resources, fleet hired temporary technicians and asked some technicians to work overtime. These steps helped recover lost work hours and allowed fleet to meet its projected budget goals.

6 City of Columbus, OH

Contact: Kelly Reagan
Units: 3,025 on-road; 3,376 off-road
Staff: 119
Maint. Facilities: 4
Overcoming Challenges: Columbus’ challenge was in meeting its initiative of reducing petroleum consumption by 5% by the end of 2014 (compared to 2010). Fleet surpassed this goal, reducing consumption by almost 13% (437,272 gallons). Additionally, it opened its second CNG fueling station and began designing a third station. Anti-idling technology on 90 new cruisers reduced idling by 35%, further reducing gasoline consumption.

7 County of San Bernardino, CA

Contact: Roger Weaver
Units: 2,985 on-road; 434 off-road
Staff: 113
Maint. Facilities: 6
Overcoming Challenges: Fleet’s biggest challenge was managing innovation and modernization while controlling costs and avoiding duplication. Telematics, automated fueling, and car sharing technologies are proprietary and difficult to utilize without purchasing redundant systems. Fleet consolidated these technologies at the lowest cost while improving services by pushing its fleet software and telematics providers to interface mileage and location activity into one system and eliminate mileage capture during fueling.

8 Manatee County, FL

Contact: Michael Brennan
Units: 1,003 on-road; 343 off-road        
Staff: 33
Maint. Facilities: 4         
Overcoming Challenges: The fleet’s most significant challenge has been completing its planned technological, safety, and facility advancements on schedule as three long-time team members retired. Fleet has accomplished: installation of its bulk oil system at all facilities; enhancement of 150 additional units with on-board gateway telematics; and continued automation of its parts operation, expanding stock part inventory by $40,000, which saved more than 70 days of downtime in the first two months.

9 City of Rochester, NY

Contact: Mike Quattrone
Units: 1,040 on-road; 164 off-road
Staff: 69
Maint. Facilities: 1
Overcoming Challenges: The fleet’s biggest challenge has been implementation of a single fueling chip key for a “green” fueling station shared across multiple public agencies. The chip key had to be assigned to the vehicle, with every employee receiving a new PIN and being trained on the new procedure. After much research, fleet staff became the experts in this area and aided in the configuring of the system for this type of implementation.

10 City of Fort Wayne, IN

Contact: Larry Campbell
Units: 1,170 on-road; 725 off-road
Staff: 28
Maint. Facilities: 2         
Overcoming Challenges: With fleet growth and larger equipment size, the lack of space at the existing facility, built in 1954, caused issues.  The facility is old but it meets all codes and is OSHA compliant. It has had some updates within the past 10 years: new energy-­efficient windows, lighting, roof, floors capped, heating systems, and Wi-Fi. All of this has helped lower utility bills, and each saw a return on investment within five years of each project, with some being less than two years. 

10  Orange County Sanitation District, CA

Contact: Nick Arhontes
Units: 180 on-road; 490 off-road
Staff: 8
Maint. Facilities: 2         
Overcoming Challenges: A sewer cleaning truck had continuous issues with diesel engine emission controls. The truck was at the chassis dealer many times over the past three years, resulting in vehicle downtime. The dealer couldn’t resolve the problem. The sewer truck dealer ultimately intervened and replaced the sewer truck with a different make under warranty. The persistence of the fleet team saved ratepayers significant costs and improved customer relations both internally and externally.

12 Lee County, FL

Contact: Marilyn Rawlings
Units: 950 on-road; 900 off-road
Staff: 26
Maint. Facilities: 2         
Overcoming Challenges: Plummeting real estate values and the associated reduction in the county’s taxable income for the past five years has made fleet operations difficult. Fleet extended equipment life well beyond the norm, repair costs escalated, and fleet personnel were cut. These factors and others resulted in many equipment breakdowns, back-ordered parts, no availability of back-up equipment, and escalating crew/­equipment downtime. To respond, fleet began off-site repairs and sent more work to vendors to satisfy customers.

13 City of Orlando, FL

Contact: David Dunn
Units: 2,780 on-road; 292 off-road
Staff: 55
Maint. Facilities: 1         
Overcoming Challenges: An aging base of core technicians and the rapid pace of technology in fleet vehicles has made it difficult for fleet to deliver services. All new vehicle acquisitions include extensive training for technicians, and this training is made available to local colleagues and trade school students. Opening up the classes to trade schools gives the fleet access to a new pool of recruits.

14 City of Houston, TX

Contact: Victor Ayres
Units: 10,302 on-road; 1,488 off-road
Staff: 394
Maint. Facilities: 27
Overcoming Challenges: The Public Works (PW) Department, which operates 33% of the city’s fleet, was the final department to be consolidated with the Fleet Management Department in 2014. PW maintenance staff remained in place, and operational management and reporting was changed to fleet. Staffing vacancies within PW and bringing outsourced jobs in-house reduced outside vendor repair costs from $2.8 to $1.1 million per year, and repair time was reduced from six to eight weeks to three to five days.

15 City of Indianapolis DPW - IFS, IN

Contact: Ronnie Rhoton
Units: 3,907 on-road; 880 off-road
Staff: 104
Maint. Facilities: 3
Overcoming Challenges: In 2015, the city began an initiative to convert its non-­pursuit vehicles to plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) by adding more than 200 EVs. To resolve charging issues, the city partnered with the utility company to purchase and install more than 200 charging stations. To address vehicle functionality in the field, fleet is working with a training provider to develop training specializing in the operation/­repair of advanced technology vehicles. 

16 City of Milwaukee, WI

Contact: Jeffrey Tews
Units: 2,496 on-road; 506 off-road        
Staff: 106
Maint. Facilities: 5
Overcoming Challenges: In 2014, the mayor tasked Fleet Services with creating a demolition crew to remove condemned houses from the city. Fleet was challenged to remove 100 houses in the first year on a limited budget. Fleet staff assembled a strong team of ­professionals from within, quickly acquired necessary equipment through strategic purchases and rentals, and trained with private contractors to get the team working within weeks. Fleet staff developed innovations along  the way to make each job more efficient and met its demolition goal.

17 County of Sonoma, CA

Contact: David Worthington
Units: 1,033 on-road; 161 off-road
Staff: 22
Maint. Facilities: 3
Overcoming Challenges: A new light equipment fleet maintenance facility became necessary three years ago when the current site was sold to the State Court System. Changes in the vacancy deadlines, budgetary constraints, and problems with three different architectural design firms nearly resulted in the project not moving forward. Patience, political wherewithal, and the marketing of the financial and operational benefits of a new maintenance facility resulted in the approval of the $9.9 million project at the end of January 2015.

18 City & County of Denver, CO

Contact: Todd Richardson
Units: 1,332 on-road; 631 off-road
Staff: 86
Maint. Facilities: 7
Overcoming Challenges: With the fleet director position vacant for more than a year, fleet employees lacked direction, and there were no goals or vision for the organization. The new fleet director re-established clear expectations, opened lines of communication, created a vision, and developed performance goals with employee input. Mangers hit the shop floor and made daily contact with employees to hear their voices and understand their problems. Clear performance measures were put in place and communicated so each employee knew the organization’s direction. Fleet has made major progress, and it has shown in work results.

19 City of Anaheim, CA

Contact: Julie Lyons
Units: 700 on-road; 400 off-road
Staff: 30
Maint. Facilities: 1
Overcoming Challenges: The fleet’s biggest challenge has been, and will continue to be, an aging workforce. It is looking at partnering with local schools to create a mentoring program and is aggressively training “newer” employees so they can step in when the more senior staff retire. Fleet is creating a succession plan, aggressively recruiting, and paying extra for technician certifications. If experienced staff members decide to stay on a little longer, they are asked to mentor the more “junior” technicians.

20 Alameda County, CA

Contact: Doug Bond
Units: 1,050 on-road
Staff: 14
Maint. Facilities: 3
Overcoming Challenges: Budget has continued to be the fleet’s biggest challenge, which it has tried to overcome with technology. A hybrid/electric fleet of 235 vehicles, partially purchased with grant funding, has helped reduce fuel costs by about $450,000 since 2002. Fleet has upgraded its fuel management system and installed GPS devices in more than 400 vehicles, which have helped reduce fuel consumption. A collaborative fuel purchase is estimated to save $250,000 over the five-year contract.

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