The National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) has certified Charleston County (S.C.) Fleet Operations as an ASE Blue Seal of Excellence Certified Shop. A plaque was awarded to Charleston County Fleet Operations in front of Charleston County Council during its Dec. 10 meeting.
Many of the fleet's technicians have tested and received individual ASE certifications for work related specialties including HVAC, braking systems, electrical components, and engine performance under the supervision of Director Robert Gannon.
"Becoming an ASE Blue Seal Certified Shop shows that our technicians know what they're doing and that they're also a step above the rest," said M.L. Garrett, assistant fleet operations manager for Charleston County. "Helping our employees become certified is also an excellent way to allow them to develop their careers, and that can also increase employee loyalty."
Mark Kostos, Charleston County shop supervisor and ASE Master Technician, spearheaded the effort to encourage fleet staff to dedicate their efforts in learning all aspects of their job and seek certification as part of their skills.
"To be recognized as an ASE Blue Seal of Excellence Shop, we had to meet certain specialized criteria," Kostos said. "Each area of service we perform in the fleet must be covered by an ASE certified technician."
At least 75% of the technicians performing diagnosis and repairs must also be ASE certified.
"We currently exceed the minimum requirements," Kostos said. "We have more than 80% of our technicians ASE certified covering a total of 25 designated certification areas with all 16 required certification areas covered. Some of our technicians have multiple certifications in each area."
The required certification areas on the medium and heavy truck side include gasoline engines; diesel engines; suspension and steering; electrical/electronic systems; heating, ventilation and air conditioning; preventive maintenance inspection; and engine repair.
The required certifications for the automotive and light truck side include diesel engines; automatic transmission; manual drivetrain and axles; suspension and steering; brakes systems; electrical/electronic systems; heating and air conditioning; and engine performance.
Technicians must recertify every five years to keep their ASE certifications current, and Fleet Operations must certify every year to retain Blue Seal of Excellence certification.
"The Blue Seal certification will be an ongoing challenge keeping current with continuing education, training in the use of specialized testing equipment, and the ever changing technology of today's vehicles, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations, alternative fuel sources and tighter fuel economy regulations," said Kostos.
Charleston County's Fleet Operations is a member of the Southeast Governmental Fleet Managers Association and is tasked with keeping the agency's vehicles up and running. The county operates 1,019 vehicles, from sedans to bulldozers and ambulances.
By Shawn Smetana, media relations coordinator for Charleston County