Owens’ long-term goals include asset life cycle management, ongoing training, and technical team development.  -  Photo: Government Fleet | Makela Owens

Owens’ long-term goals include asset life cycle management, ongoing training, and technical team development.

Photo: Government Fleet | Makela Owens

Fleet Manager Makela Owens discusses the changes and challenges of the fleet industry as well as the motivation for being in the fleet industry.

Previously the Fleet Management Analyst for County of San Joaquin, Fleet Manager for the city of Stockton, California, and at the beginning of 2024 she transitioned to the Northern California Fleet Manager for Frito Lay. 

In her new role as Nor Cal Fleet Manager, Owens oversees 29 shop locations with two leads and 12 technicians covering the California region from Eureka to Bakersfield and the Reno, Nevada, area. This includes the oversight of 780 fleet assets, all maintenance shops, fiscal management, and parts for the Northern California market.

In her new position, Owens’ short-term goals include route efficiency, staff readiness, and execution of the current EV asset transition. Long-term goals include asset life cycle management, ongoing training, and technical team development.

Making Changes and Finding Success as a Fleet

Owens has an obvious passion for the fleet industry, recognizing its unique impact on every aspect of society and its crucial role in keeping the world moving. When asked about the key to a successful fleet, she emphasized the importance of quality technicians and equipment.

Owens believes that a successful fleet is built on the foundation of consistent maintenance and lifecycle management, ensuring the sustained efficiency and effectiveness of the entire fleet.

However, Owens acknowledges that there are still challenges to overcome, especially as a woman. 

“The main challenge is being a minority in the industry,” she noted. “It is challenging in that women must always show and prove their value in order to gain the respect required to run a successful fleet.”

Her advice is to stay informed, develop connections, and establish relationships with industry associations and peers.

When it comes to challenges within the industry as a whole Owens points to the electric vehicle transition noting that it requires the collaboration of multiple teams and resources to execute effectively.

What Makes a Good Leader and a Strong Fleet Team

When it comes to her own leadership responsibilities, Owens is focused on open communication and supporting her team.  

“They all know that my job is to provide the tools and resources they need in order to complete their mission,” she added. 

Owens also pointed out the need for management to provide support and respect to create an environment where each person feels confident to contribute and be the best at what they do.

And Owens’ thoughts on the future? 

“Fleet is moving from nuts and bolts to computer and technology awareness,” she explained. “We need to consistently seek ways to keep our staff knowledgeable about the shifts in the industry and be aware of impending legislation that may affect the industry.”

Women in Public Fleet Management: The State of the Industry

About the author
Nichole Osinski

Nichole Osinski

Executive Editor

Nichole Osinski is the executive editor of Government Fleet magazine. She oversees editorial content for the magazine and the website, selects educational programming for GFX, and manages the brand's awards programs.

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