The Leading Fleets program recognizes public sector fleet organizations for their leadership, efficiency, ability to overcome challenges, and vision for the future. The award is coproduced with the American Public Works Association (APWA) and sponsored by Ford Pro.
Applicants are judged on their organizations’ leadership; how they ensure competitiveness and efficiency; how they address and overcome major challenges; and how they are working toward future goals. Fleets submit online applications at the beginning of the year. The rankings for the Leading Fleets were announced at the Honors Celebration at the Government Fleet Expo & Conference (GFX) on Nov. 16, 2021.
Here are the top 50 fleets for 2021, along with how they managed and overcame their biggest challenges. Not surprisingly, the pandemic was by far the biggest hurdle fleet operations faced.
1. Hillsborough County, Florida
Contact: Robert Stine, CAFM, CPFP
Units: 2,300 On-Road; 1,000 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Continuing operations as COVID-19 spread. Staff worked to keep employees and drivers safe, found extra assets for customers limited to one driver per vehicle, and worked with vendors to obtain needed parts.
2. Dakota County Fleet Management, Minnesota
Contact: Kevin Schlangen, CAFM, CEM, CPFP
Units: 318 On-Road; 94 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Lack of space and technology, along with COVID challenges and civil unrest. Staff worked on a campus renovation project, shuffling employees around and enacting COVID protocols. The project was completed under budget with no health issues.
3 (tie). County of Sacramento, California
Contact: Keith Leech
Units: 2,537 On-Road; 154 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Catalytic converter thefts have been very costly despite early and creative theft prevention measures. Management has even considered buying different vehicles, but many models are targeted. Management installed the CatStrap to vehicles for added protection.
3 (tie). San Joaquin County, California
Contact: Kevin Myose
Units: 1,000 On-Road; 100 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Determining what to charge employees for workplace charging, negotiating between a conservative administration and a desire to encourage employees to charge at work. This included surveying neighboring entities and negotiating with General Services to determine the final price — free.
5. City of Greenville, South Carolina
Contact: Scott McIver
Units: 504 On-Road; 302 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Coping with COVID-19 and taking over the small engine repair division. Management divided the team into four groups for clustering and prevention of spread. It also did a utilization audit, removed high-maintenance-cost machinery, and provided operator-level maintenance training, allowing the team to reduce technician positions by one.
6. City of Long Beach, California
Contact: Dan Berlenbach
Units: 1,551 On-Road; 654 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Continuing operations in towing and maintenance during the pandemic. Management enacted measures to protect employees, including teleworking, disinfecting procedures, vehicle and parts drop-off procedures, staggered schedules, online training, and flexibility with family care.
7. City of Tallahassee, Florida
Contact: Jeff Shepard
Units: 2,425 On-Road; 373 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Providing mutual aid for three storms, while adjusting to COVID, staff shortages, and a reduction in the replacement fund. Management extended replacement cycles using utilization reports and expanded the shared equipment program to reduce replacement costs by nearly $1 million.
8. 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron - Vehicle Management, U.S. Air Force
Contact: Antonio Oquendo
Units: 445 On-Road; 553 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Losing 52% of its budget in the fiscal year. Organizational leaders worked to acquire $590,000 to fund maintenance operations for the remainder of the fiscal year. Leadership prioritized vehicles for repair, determined what maintenance could be safely deferred, and cannibalized parts to return other assets back to service quicker.
9. Manatee County, Florida
Contact: Matthew Case
Units: 1,459 On-Road; 481 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Providing COVID-19 support for the local community; and merging with the Fuel and Warehouse Division, which added the responsibility of monitoring 99 fuel tanks. The fleet team procured 53 additional pieces of equipment for COVID-19 testing and immunization programs and began procuring fuel directly from distributors to save $1 million in fuel charges in 2020.
10. City of Santa Barbara, California
Contact: Gary Horwald
Units: 404 On-Road; 49 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Keeping staff healthy during the pandemic and keeping services running through a budget shortfall. Employees were split into two teams and worked different shifts to avoid cross-contamination. Management deferred 67% of planned vehicle purchases, reduced the operating budget by 5%, and piloted the lease of two fire apparatus.
11. Denver International Airport
Contact: Jeff Booton
Units: 600 On-Road; 340 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Effectively managing the fleet with devastating staffing and financial reductions caused by the pandemic. The team took several actions, including altering shift schedules, working extended shifts, writing purchase justifications for every single part, and parking assets indefinitely.
12. City of Dublin, Ohio
Contact: John Hyatt
Units: 260 On-Road; 55 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: The pandemic forced operating changes, including splitting technical staff into two teams of equal strengths. One team was sent home with pay and benefits for three weeks, while the other worked; they switched and continued this pattern for several months.
13. City of Lakeland, Florida
Contact: Gary McLean
Units: 1,133 On-Road; 243 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Adapting to the pandemic and acting quickly, even before emergency managers did. Fleet management shared its concept of operations with the city and other fleets throughout the state. They formed “bubbles” to isolate staff, split the team into two work shifts, and deployed a revolutionary disinfectant with zero chemicals that uses nanotechnology.
14. University of California, Davis
Contact: Fred Gallardo
Units: 975 On-Road; 106 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Automating motor pool with over 90 vehicles. Staff spent significant time implementing the system, creating users, updating customer training manuals, labeling parking, and creating new signage for the buildings and kiosks. The system now has 700 registered users, and customer feedback is positive.
15. County of San Luis Obispo, California
Contact: Rocky Buoy
Units: 942 On-Road; 123 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Many — 40% — of the fleet’s heavy equipment mechanics were new hires to backfill retirements. Its comprehensive technician training program, based on a U.S. Navy program, and in-house mentoring program allowed it to hire less-experienced technicians who showed great teamwork personalities.
16. City of Ventura, California
Contact: Barbara McCormack
Units: 398 On-Road; 26 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Due to budget reductions, staff levels were reduced by 62%, resulting in 11% preventive maintenance compliance. The team drew on each mechanic’s strengths and reprioritized workflow to minimize downtime and keep essential vehicles in operation. An operations analysis proved fleet management provides service for less than local vendors, resulting in the city unfreezing the remaining vacant positions.
17. Chesterfield County, Virginia
Contact: Craig Willingham, CAFM
Units: 2,714 On-Road; 500 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: The pandemic halved productivity and fuel consumption in the first two weeks. Management deployed 20% of the staff to temporarily augment public safety and general services departments in field operations, shifted administrative staff to telework, and implemented two non-overlapping shifts to mitigate virus spread.
18. City of Durham, North Carolina
Contact: Joseph Clark
Units: 1,530 On-Road; 316 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Budget shortfalls make fleet replacement budget cuts appealing. Fleet management presented a compelling case for funding, resulting in an increase in replacement funding, and a strong business case persuaded the city manager to forgo contingency cuts to the operating budget.
19. Village of Arlington Heights, Illinois
Contact: Raymond Salisbury
Units: 229 On-Road; 80 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Keeping employees safe during the pandemic. The team split into two shifts working every other day, locked down the garage to non-staff members, and used a drop-off procedure for vehicles to eliminate contact with customers. This kept vehicles and equipment available, reduced potential exposure, and maintained stable productivity.
20. Orange County, Florida
Contact: Bryan Lucas
Units: 2,050 On-Road; 1,932 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Massive COVID-related budget cuts and a hard hiring freeze forced the fleet operation to increase efficiencies with reduced or no funds. It found a way to automatically bill shop supplies through its FMIS, eliminating all manual entry and accurately capturing all shop supplies. This increased the shop supply revenue by over 600%.
No. 1 Small Fleet (499 or Fewer Assets): Dakota County, Minnesota
With 412 units, Dakota County, Minnesota, has been named the No. 1 Small Fleet.
For the future, the fleet team will move forward with a $17 million plan to build two new maintenance sites by 2024 that could consolidate staff and storage from multiple sites. In addition, the management team will focus on professional development so the department can have a solid succession plan with mentoring and training.
“Never forget how important training and education are. The fleet industry is changing rapidly and if you want to remain competitive in this market, then you need to invest in your staff to keep up,” said Kevin Schlangen, CAFM, CEM, CPFP, fleet manager for the county.
No. 1 Mid-Size Fleet (500-999 Assets): Greenville, South Carolina
The City of Greenville, South Carolina, is the No. 1 Mid-Size Fleet, with just over 800 units.
“Being named the No. 1 Mid-Size Fleet is very humbling to say the least. There are so many outstanding fleet programs in the 50 Leading Fleets competition that it drives every one of us to be the best we can at providing a safe, efficient, and reliable vehicle base for our customers while being responsible stewards with the taxpayers’ dollars. I want to thank my team for giving their best every day,” said Scott McIver, CAFS, CPFP, fleet manager for the city.
For the future, the team is setting its sights on electrification and will develop a training program on electric vehicles for technicians, support staff, and fleet managers. McIver said he feels “guarded excitement” about fleet electrification, as the team will need to tackle charging infrastructure, technician and driver training, and educating the public.
No. 1 Large Fleet (1,000 or More Assets): Hillsborough County, Florida
With 3,300 vehicles and equipment, Hillsborough County, Florida, is the No. 1 Large Fleet as well as the No. 1 overall fleet.
For more information about this operation, click here.
THE REMAINING LEADING FLEETS ARE LISTED IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER:
City of Beverly Hills, California
Contact: Craig Crowder
Units: 320 On-Road; 125 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Providing high levels of service and efficiency while working through the COVID-19 pandemic and early retirements. Fleet personnel logged over 2,000 hours of overtime, and management contracted out parts support and police take-home vehicle leasing and maintenance.
City of Boca Raton, Florida
Contact: Tony Remige, CAFS
Units: 687 On-Road; 191 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Adapting the operation to a new finance ERP software program. Training was held via web meetings and in small groups. Staff developed specific end-user procedures and “how-to” guides to improve the learning curve for current and future users. In implementing the program, it has identified areas of improvement for fleet operations.
City of Cape Coral, Florida
Contact: AJ Forbes
Units: 1,178 On-Road; 586 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: The pandemic made the difficulty in recruiting even worse. Management enlisted new technicians through expansion of advertising, a comprehensive benefits package, and the operation’s reputation for excellence. Candidates get to know and interact with staff during interviews.
City of Carlsbad, California
Contact: Bradley Northup
Units: 377 On-Road; 46 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: COVID-19 exacerbated an existing issue with vehicle underutilization. Fleet management used existing wireless fueling systems to report on vehicle inactivity, paired with regular site visits and increased communication to department representatives. Staff successfully re-assigned underutilized assets or retired vehicles early.
City of Chesapeake, Virginia
Contact: George Hrichak, CEM, CPFP
Units: 1,549 On-Road; 64 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: COVID-related business closures and parts delays, as well as fleet operational changes, hampered the fleet’s ability to provide a quick turnaround time on repairs. Management increased sublets, deferred non-essential repairs, increased stocked parts, and repaired/fabricated parts as needed.
City of Fort Wayne, Indiana
Contact: Larry Campbell, CPFP
Units: 1,202 On-Road; 962 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Management implemented new processes to keep its staff safe during the pandemic. This included locking the shop to non-personnel, relying on phone calls instead of in-person visits, and using new features of the fleet software upgrade to lessen face-to-face time with customers.
City of Goodyear, Arizona
Contact: Kevin Devery
Units: 367 On-Road; 64 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Increasing preventive maintenance (PM) compliance from 73%. Staff analyzed its PM parameters, worked with customer departments, expanded business hours, and guaranteed a two-hour turnaround. After a year, PM compliance was at 100%, resulting in a 28% reduction in breakdowns and $74,000 in reduced costs.
City of Indianapolis, Indiana
Contact: Bill Rogers
Units: 3,631 On-Road; 1,160 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Maintaining efficient operations during the pandemic, including for public health and safety vehicles with increased utilization. Management made policy changes to protect staff members, including sanitizing, using personal protective equipment, and adding plexiglass barriers in the reception area.
City of Irving, Texas
Contacts: Debbie Jackson/Larry Spain
Units: 860 On-Road; 205 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Keeping things running during the pandemic. The operation went to seven days a week with technicians in every other bay, reduced customer interactions, and reduced in-person meetings. The fleet was praised by customers and city management for keeping downtime low, exposure low, and operational workflow high.
City of Madison, Wisconsin
Contact: Mahanth Joishy
Units: 965 On-Road; 427 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Constructing and moving into a fleet facility during the pandemic. The team migrated four garages into one, moving a large amount of inventory and equipment and working reduced hours while maintaining service levels. The move was staggered and took a month.
City of Oakland, California
Contact: Joseph Williams
Units: 1,520 On-Road; 310 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Addressing staff safety concerns regarding COVID-19. Internal staff designed, fabricated, and installed the first sneeze barriers in the city, along with other safety measures. The fleet partnered with local vendors to assist during the above-average vacancy rate, ensuring customers continued to receive the service level they expect.
City of Peoria, Arizona
Contact: John Freuden, CAFM, CPFP
Units: 697 On-Road; 108 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Maintaining operational continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic, on-site, with unchanged schedules or workload. In addition to enacting safety measures, staff retained vehicles set for resale to accommodate distancing requests and assigned pool vehicles as long-term COVID-19 loaners. Routine and team atmosphere made work the closest thing to “normal.”
City of Phoenix, Arizona
Contacts: Scott Chandler/Keith Carbajal
Units: 6,481 On-Road; 567 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Staffing, hiring qualified technicians, filling vacancies caused by the pandemic, and keeping technicians focused on assigned tasks. Management has been working with shop foremen on routine maintenance procedures, and networking with local trade schools has been successful for recruitment.
City of Raleigh, North Carolina
Contact: Justin Mullins
Units: 2,041 On-Road; 495 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Keeping critical vehicles running while keeping staff members safe. Management closed one of three shops and had crews alternating working one week on and one off to limit exposure. This had a detrimental effect on revenue and productivity, but the fleet was able to erase its deficit by June 2020.
City of Richmond, British Columbia, Canada
Contact: Suzanne Bycraft
Units: 522 On-Road; 9 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: COVID and record-breaking weather events have been a challenge in 2021. The fleet team was able to amalgamate data from its six data systems to plan and respond quickly to the ever-changing landscape. This ensured the appropriate teams and equipment were safely in place to continue providing essential services.
City of Roseville, California
Contact: Brian Craighead
Units: 661 On-Road; 239 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Making operational adjustments during the COVID-19 pandemic to continue to provide a high level of service to customers. Staff began daily vehicle disinfectant fogging, securing service agreements with multiple repair facilities in the case of an outbreak in the fleet facility, and preordering known high-use parts and supplies.
City of Sacramento, California
Contact: Mark Stevens
Units: 2,100 On-Road; 650 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Ensuring all staff were following safety protocols to minimize COVID-19 impacts regarding staffing levels, which was especially important with unfilled positions and a hiring freeze. Staff members were able to report to work with minimal impacts to the quality and quantity of work produced by the fleet division.
City of Salem, Oregon
Contact: Jim Schmidt
Units: 664 On-Road; 409 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Replacing an outdated, inaccurate fleet management system. Fleet staff gathered and cleaned data, created new codes, loaded them into the new system, and reviewed and tested data. The operation went live with the new system two months early and $12,000 under budget.
City of San Antonio, Texas
Contact: Ruben Flores
Units: 2,691 On-Road; 142 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Endured weather-related issues, with ice and hailstorms, along with the COVID-19 pandemic. Over a 12-month period, nearly 40% of technicians were impacted by COVID-19, resulting in a loss of about 1,000 hours of productivity. With targeted oversight and management, the team was able to maintain performance levels and meet preventive maintenance goals.
City of San Diego, California
Contact: Casey Smith
Units: 4,283 On-Road; 288 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: The pandemic halted vehicle builds and deliveries, stopped the issuance of new license plates and registrations, and impacted staffing due to shelter-in-place orders and social distancing requirements. Fleet management adapted to these changes and prioritized accordingly to continue to serve customers and ensure the safety of staff members.
City of Thousand Oaks, California
Contact: Donald Covarrubias
Units: 228 On-Road; 41 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Replacing a long-time fleet supervisor who retired during the pandemic. A new supervisor joined in November 2020 and under his leadership, the fleet division continues to maintain a record of achievements in the fields of alternative fuel vehicles, preventive maintenance, vehicle inspections, vehicle repairs, and regulatory compliance.
City of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Contact: Evan Dacey
Units: 1,620 On-Road; 345 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Lack of availability of suitable electric vehicles to fulfill green initiative plans, EV trucks specifically. This forced the fleet to delay or cancel some of its electrification plans. Management is in communication with multiple vendors to ensure the operation is among the first to be able to purchase electric trucks as they are released.
CPS Energy, Texas
Contact: Bert Hargesheimer
Units: 1,582 On-Road; 965 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Adjusting operations for COVID-19 and vehicle delivery delays while continuing with a fleet management information system (FMIS) implementation project. Management changed its purchasing strategy to temporarily purchase vehicles with shorter lead times, and team members worked together to move the FMIS project forward.
DC Water, Washington, D.C.
Contact: Timothy Fitzgerald
Units: 620 On-Road; 79 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Adjusting to COVID-19, including keeping both staff members and customers safe. Management restricted access to the lunchroom, ensured service vehicles and the shop were sterilized each day, and minimized in-person contact with clients by allowing for contactless vehicle drop-offs.
Iowa State University
Contact: Kathy Wellik, CAFM
Units: 590 On-Road; 5 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Ensuring departmental value to avoid staff layoffs during COVID-19 — despite an administration recommendation to sell the fleet and go with an outside provider. Management matched fleet employee skills with open positions in other departments to transfer them, ensured sanitized vehicles and safe vehicle pickups, and increased marketing efforts.
King County, Washington
Contact: Jennifer Lindwall
Units: 2,206 On-Road; 327 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Social distancing because of COVID-19. The staff reconfigured shop spaces, constantly sanitized common work areas, allocated space to store unused vehicles, and checked on seldom-used vehicles to ensure batteries didn’t die. The team was able to provide safe, uninterrupted service to customers and kept essential service vehicles on the road.
Lower Colorado River Authority, Texas
Contact: Miguel Nunez
Units: 1,212 On-Road; 594 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Responding to Winter Storm Uri. Staff ensured critical supply stock; deployed spare 4WD assets; maximized fuel stock; and headed home with mobile hotspots, laptops, and shop trucks. They were able to respond remotely, performing field repairs, deploying fuel, and leveraging telematics to coordinate routes and locate critical equipment.
Miami-Dade County, Florida
Contact: Alex Alfonso
Units: 8,303 On-Road; 289 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Maintaining uniform and consistent services while safeguarding employees during the pandemic. Staff practiced social distancing, used personal protective equipment, and implemented operational health protocols. The regular use of virtual communication platforms now saves the team over 462 annual hours of travel time (or $17,500).
New York City Police Department
Contact: Vartan Khachadurian
Units: 8,499 On-Road; 1,373 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Operating through the pandemic along with widespread budget cuts (due to the “defund the police” movement) and civil unrest that resulted in damaged vehicles. Staff members restored many of the 300 vehicles vandalized within a 10-day period to usable condition.
University of Texas at Austin
Contact: Brett Mayes
Units: 587 On-Road; 462 Off-Road
Overcoming Challenges: Struggled with employee physical and mental wellness, financial unrest, communication hurdles, and resentment of those working remotely. Initially, staff used the pandemic shutdown to update ASE certifications and for enhanced online training. Management soon got leadership to authorize premium pay to return to work.
While the Notable Fleets were not named among the Leading Fleets, their accomplishments and efforts warrant recognition.
● City of Brampton, Ontario, Canada
● City of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota
● City of Buckeye, Arizona
● City of Cedar Rapids, Iowa
● City of Conroe, Texas
● City of Coppell, Texas
● City of Fairfield, California
● City of Fayetteville, Arkansas
● City of Fort Worth, Texas
● City of Frisco, Texas
● City of Grand Prairie, Texas
● City of Henderson, Nevada
● City of Houston, Texas
● City of Lewisville, Texas
● City of Marietta, Georgia
● City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
● City of Moline, Illinois
● City of Moscow, Idaho
● City of Muskogee, Oklahoma
● City of Newton, Massachusetts
● City of Orlando, Florida
● City of Richmond, Virginia
● City of West Jordan, Utah
● City of West Palm Beach, Florida
● City of West University Place, Texas
● City of Wichita, Kansas
● City of Wilsonville, Oregon
● Contra Costa County, California
● County of Ventura, California
● Dallas County, Texas
● Dublin City Schools, Ohio
● Duchesne County, Utah
● Fairfax County, Virginia
● Hanover County, Virginia
● Johnson County, Kansas
● New York City Fleet, DCAS
● Prince William County, Virginia
● Riverside County, California
● San Antonio Water System, Texas
● Sandy City, Utah
● State of Ohio
● Town of Castle Rock, Colorado
● Village of Mount Prospect, Illinois
● Wake County, North Carolina
● Washington County, Oregon