Day two at GFX 2023 kicked off with a keynote address from Commander Kirk Lippold, USN (Ret.), who was the Commanding Officer of the USS Cole when it came under a suicide terrorist attack by al Qaeda in the port of Aden, Yemen on October 12, 2000. Lippold provided expertise on how to lead teams and manage challenges successfully in the face of financial, national security, and global uncertainties.
CDR Lippold broke down his Five Pillars of Leadership to offer strategies he has learned and applied to instill integrity into his team members and mitigate crises throughout his naval career.
"You have to make decisions; there's no such thing as no decision...If you get better and more information you get to change your decision," What you're really doing at this point is what I call asking the 'what next' question. What do I need to think about next, what do I need to plan for next, and what do I need to do next? And by asking the 'what next' question, you're actually creating time and space for better decision making by getting better information to base that decision on."
Fleet Management and the Drive to Stay Ahead of the Curve
Several sessions focused on the day-to-day challenges that all fleets face, from best practices for the entire team to fleet safety management from the perspective of municipalities and telematics platforms. During the session, "Navigating Fleet Management Uncertainty," attendees were able to learn more about the impacts of supply chain and labor shortages within the government and public sector fleet space.
"When do things get better? When do things normalize? Right now the expectation would be for next year," said Bill Blais, director, Strategic Consulting, Element Fleet Management. "Expectations for this coming model year and order cycle you should see improvement versus what you've experienced over the last couple of years."
Predictive maintenance and fleet safety were on the morning agenda before the ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the exhibit hall. Attendees were able to meet Nichole Osinski, the new executive editor of Government Fleet and Christy Grimes, associate editor of Government Fleet, and School Bus Fleet before lunch.
Things kicked back into gear with two shop talk sessions, one on uncovering all the solutions and strategies that help municipalities market high-demand fleet vehicles and another around RFPs and how to get the best solution at the best price.
"Moneyball for Fleet Management" took a deep dive into how fleet managers can leverage analytics to get the full value out of their data. "Keys to Operating in a Multi-Solution Environment" explained the reasons why data is a key part of successful fleet electrification plans, share key hardware and software considerations and impart why electricity is a fuel unlike any other.
Sessions rounded out with talks on how to lead, not manage a team; using telematics to its full potential; and how being intentional and mindful can improve effectiveness in a fleet's brand.
All New: Police Fleet Conference Tackles Challenges and Solutions
New to GFX this year was Police Fleet Conference (PFC) kicking off with the session, Knowing Your Police Vehicle. Sgt. Tom Gorman, Connecticut State Police, led the discussion detailing the importance for officers to know the basics about their vehicle and how to best prepare officers to treat their vehicles with care.
A later session on electrifying police vehicles gave attendees a better idea of what fleet managers need to keep in mind during the transition to electric fleets. The police sessions wrapped up with a chance for fleet managers to engage in a roundtable discussion to share problems they’re facing amid the supply chain crisis, and possible solutions for these problems.
Thursday, May 24, PFC sessions kick off with "Light it Up: Spotlight on Law Enforcement Vehicle Lighting" at 10:30 a.m. to look at the science behind police lighting and the technology available for police lights. Additionally, fleet managers will be able to learn about ways to make sure they are not overdoing it with their police lighting.
Networking, Exhibits, and a Night on the Town
Throughout the day, sessions were interlaced with networking opportunities. Shorter coffee breaks allowed for GFX attendees to talk about the sessions, what they've been learning, and meet some new faces in the industry.
One session, "Better Connections in Fleet," touched on why, even in this busy industry, it's important to find time to connect and learn from your peers. At 10:55 a.m. a ribbon cutting ceremony officially opened the Exhibit Hall bringing in a crowd of people to check out the vehicles, equipment, and new products on display.
The day wrapped up at Federales in Dallas' Deep Ellum entertainment district, known for its vibrant street murals, quirky art galleries, and long-time concert venues for indie and blues. The location gave everyone some time outside of the conference to talk and enjoy the night before the last day full day of sessions at GFX. Because as many attendees noted, GFX is about the fleet family and learning from each other.
"I started out coming to events like GFX...and getting to know the individuals there," said city of Greenville Fleet Manager Scott McIver, adding that he used these individuals as mentors to "guide me in my growth as a fleet manager."