Alison Kerstetter joined the city of Sacramento, California Department of Public Works as fleet manager in July 2022.
Following the previous Fleet Manager Mark Stevens, she’s acquired a big undertaking. In her current role, she is responsible for Sacramento’s six maintenance shops, as well as 2,900 vehicles and equipment and roughly 160 contracts.
She leads the fleet management department, which has 60 employees. The department is responsible for the ins and outs of Sacramento’s fleet. This includes:
- Vehicle procurement
- Contracts management
- Bid solicitation
- Council reports
- Motor pool management
- Department of motor vehicle licensing and registering
- Invoice payment
- Budget generation
- Vehicle replacement projections and repairs
Because of her large staff, there are always opportunities to learn and grow in her role with her employees. “The people I work with are great and are always providing information on the technical aspects of the job. I come from a business background and every day I learn something more about vehicle operation and mechanical workings,” Kerstetter says.
How it all Began
Kerstetter started her fleet career in logistics at Rite Aid Corporation specializing in Transportation and Supplier Compliance.
While she’s new to the fleet management role, she’s been working for the City of Sacramento since 2015.
She was able to use her skills and experience at Rite Aid Corporation when she moved to Sacramento and was hired as a program analyst with the City of Sacramento Department of Utilities Logistics Section.
She adds, “I was responsible for the department vehicle replacements and the budgets for the Utilities Fleet and Facilities. The department had 500 vehicles and equipment at that time.”
That role helped her grow in her career and she was soon promoted to program specialist for the Department of Public Works, Fleet Management Division.
“I oversaw purchasing all the city’s vehicles and equipment as the supervisor of the asset management team. At that time, there were 2,400 vehicles and equipment in the fleet. I was also responsible for bid solicitations, contracts and council reports for vehicles, equipment and services needed for the city fleet maintenance shops,” she says.
Looking Toward the Future
Like all fleet roles, the job has its good times and bad times.
One of Kerstetter’s biggest challenges as a fleet manager is recruitment and retention. Closing out 2022, Kerstetter stated the Fleet Management Division has over 20 positions vacant, including mechanics of all experience levels and equipment service workers.
“The experience level and time in the trade of the people that are applying for mechanic and service worker positions are less than what was seen 10 years ago. Also, as in most local municipalities, the ability to pay the same wages as private companies is not comparable.”
One of Kerstetter’s goals that will help improve retention and recruitment is to make changes within the organization that will make it a better place for employees to work.
Along with improving recruitment, she’s also excited to incorporate new vehicle and equipment technology.
“It will be interesting to see the types of vehicles we will be driving in the next 20 years,” she added.
As for her final advice to new fleet managers, she recommends learning as much from the staff and about the operations as much as possible.
“The best thing that I did to assist in understanding the divisional operation was spending time in the shops, talking to staff, and understanding what is needed to make their jobs easier and safer. The shop supervisors are very knowledgeable about ways to make the operation better as they are on the front lines of the shops every day. Also, understanding the budget and procurement methods are important to make decisions and understand the business from a financial perspective,” Kerstetter says.