Reorganization means navigating changes in the fleet department while ensuring productivity remains consistent. - Photo: Government Fleet

Reorganization means navigating changes in the fleet department while ensuring productivity remains consistent. 

Photo: Government Fleet

Michael Donahue, fleet manager for the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) in Nebraska, oversees a department with vehicles and pieces of construction equipment ranging from lawn mowers to locomotives. The fleet team he leads supports the critical mission of supplying electricity throughout the service territory in eastern Nebraska.

Managing Changes Around Fleet Planning and Future Tech

Donahue's department has taken on the planning, acquisition, assignment, maintenance, repair, and eventual disposal of all things fleet. As the fleet industry changes just as much as any other in regard to technology, innovation, regulatory changes, environmental issues, and more, he says managing all aspects involved is fun and challenging.

“The changes we are currently experiencing with vehicle technology, the environmental forces at play, and the number of staff either retired or retiring soon will be a huge challenge – but it keeps it interesting as well,” he said.

Surviving Reorganization Within the Fleet Department

Donahue said a big challenge he’s faced is navigating a large number of changes in the organization of the department.

When he first started, the team was under the Energy Delivery part of the organization. With some changes among the senior management team, the organization wanted to eliminate any implications of favoritism or influence of a user group over the fleet which served the entire organization.

"With additional changes, we were moved to parts of the organization that served similarly, corporate wide," Donahue said. "With retirements and additional management changes, we moved around a little bit and have finally landed in the Financial Services Business Unit. That has provided significant stability for the department, more consistent leadership, and focus to provide our services as we strive for continuous improvement."

He said traversing all of that while minimizing the impact on the department took some perseverance, but they now feel they have landed in a great spot and look forward to what’s next.

Making Improvements to Fleet Operations

When the department was working on implementing telematics in the fleet they were also developing a corporate asset management strategy. One of the challenges an organization like OPPD has is managing numerous different types of assets: buildings, computers, production facilities, substations, wires, poles, transformers, vehicles and equipment, etc.

The organization identified an opportunity to improve how all of these assets are managed and implemented a project to accomplish that strategy. As part of their continuous improvement process, it was identified that telematics could be a useful tool that would provide the data needed to help OPPD improve supervision, operations, fleet sustainability, safety, risk, and information to support asset management.

Exposing Students to Fleet

Donahue got his first taste of fleet when he had the opportunity to participate in a co-op while he was a student at Iowa State University. He had an excellent experience at OPPD, and was exposed to a wide range of vehicles supporting critical infrastructure which really intrigued him. He had a history with trucks and equipment while growing up on a farm in central Nebraska, so a lot of the work was not out of his wheelhouse.

“The people here were great, and it just so happened the position became full-time not long after I graduated. I applied, got the job, and the rest is history. I don’t know if I truly envisioned a job in fleet until I had that co-op, but I have enjoyed my journey since then,” he explains.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in December 2020, but was reviewed for continued relevance and accuracy as of May 2024. 

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Staff Writer

Staff Writer


Our team of enterprising editors brings years of experience covering the fleet industry. We offer a deep understanding of trends and the ever-evolving landscapes we cover in fleet, trucking, and transportation.  

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