Public fleet professionals interacted with peers and learned about new technologies at the Public Fleet Summit, a two-day November fleet event in Austin.
The event allowed newer fleet professionals to connect with more experienced peers. Clint Harmon, fleet and facilities manager at the City of Watauga, Texas, was one of these new fleet managers, having been at the job for six months.
"I think the biggest thing being new in this is the relationships you build with other people and having the resources to go back and talk to them when you run into situations that you're unfamiliar with," Harmon said. "I'm like a sponge, just soaking up all the knowledge."
Attendees also reconnected with former colleagues. Harmon met with his former supervisor, Wayne Corum, the equipment services director with the City of Fort Worth. Harmon formerly worked as a technician.
For those relatively new to the industry, the event was an eye-opener. John Avilez has held the role of fleet manager for the City of Harlingen, Texas, for two years but wasn't aware of the fleet community in the state. Before beginning his career in fleet, he was previously Sanitation and Streets director for another city. Avilez said he was most interested in the new fleet technologies available, as well as vehicle technologies.
"Fleet is changing; vehicles are changing," Avilez said. "That's really what I'm looking for, more information."
For Avilez, the event rekindled a desire to create or join a fleet association. In Harlingen's Rio Grande Valley, the fleet community is not active, and a fleet manager has to look hard to get information about the industry. Avilez took note when Corum spoke about the Texas Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Fleet Management Association and said he would strongly consider joining it.
On the other end of the spectrum is Sam Lamerato, CPFP, fleet superintendent at the City of Troy, Mich. He has been in the industry for nearly 40 years. Lamerato speaks at events such as the Public Fleet Summit so he can share knowledge.
Lamerato gave presentations about insourcing work and ethics in government service. In addition to questions after his presentations, he also received questions via e-mail after the event, he said.
He remembers when he first became a fleet superintendent at age 27. Lamerato immediately formed a fleet managers' group to learn from others in the area. Thirty-one years later, after Lamerato built the Troy fleet into one of the top fleets in the country, he's giving back to the industry.
Public Fleet Summits take place six times per year and are a partnership between the Government Solutions Team and Government Fleet Magazine. The next summit will take place in March in Southern California.