Bob Stanton, CPM, CPFP, previously director of fleet management for Polk County, Fla., started his new position as director of fleet management for neighboring Hillsborough County, Fla., on May 16. He replaces Sharon Subadan, CPM, CAFM, CPFP, who is now deputy county administrator overseeing various departments including fleet. We recently caught up with Subadan and Stanton and asked them to reflect on their previous positions and the transition to their new positions in this interview for Government Fleet.
Stanton Moves to Home County
Stanton joined Polk County in 1992 and helped transform their fleet department into "a world-class fleet maintenance organization, made so by a strong, committed staff that believes what they do matters," Stanton said. At the time when Stanton joined Polk County, their fleet management was within months of privatization, and maintenance efforts were fragmented among different departments that operated their own shop facilities. Stanton's goal was to consolidate satellite operations, take custodial ownership of vehicle assets, and establish a replacement fund and strategy to bring the County's fleet up to date. He began by encouraging user departments to turn their vehicles over to fleet professionals, a move he said "took a significant amount of persuasion and 'ministry.'" Four years later, his efforts were implemented.
Since then, Polk County has been among the 100 Best Fleets, in 2010 earning the No. 3 spot. Their fleet has held the ASE Blue Seal of Excellence for the past eight years. This year, Stanton also received the Goill Quality Fleet Management Idea Award for incentivizing County drivers to drive more fuel-efficiently and achieving a fuel consumption reduction of nearly half a million gallons, or 13 percent.
Stanton's move to Hillsborough County is close geographically, as he has been a Hillsborough County resident for more than 30 years. "I'm looking forward to learning about and participating with a fleet operation I've admired from a distance for many years," he said. "Further, I have the benefit of following a true professional in our industry, Sharon Subadan. We'll make a great team."
But while Stanton looks forward to his new position, he'll have to say goodbye to the personnel and fleet team he's worked with for nearly 20 years. "I'll miss the people, particularly the staff at Fleet Management. We've made it our mission over the years to establish Polk County Fleet Management as an employment destination for technicians in Central Florida. As such, we've built a strong team of dedicated employee partners who not only excel in their work, but get along famously with one another. It's a cohesive and talented group of diverse individuals who I greeted with a smile and with admiration every day," Stanton said.
One of Stanton's favorite memories from his time at Polk County -- a 2010 open house at the main fleet facility, where County Commissioners, retirees, and the public were invited to attend. "We recognized our ASE certifications and our technicians at that event, giving them the chance to 'show off' by demonstrating their skills," he said. ASE-certified technicians are usually recognized during regular County Commission meetings.
Purely in numbers, the Hillsborough fleet, at approximately 3,500 units, is larger in comparison to Polk County's fleet size of 2,656 units. Another difference is Polk County insourced fleet maintenance of three facilities, while Hillsborough has no City responsibility. However, Stanton believes that with important factors, such as personnel management, customer service, and stewardship of assets, the fleet positions are very similar.
Subadan Now Supervising Fleet
Subadan, who led Hillsborough County to two No. 1 Best Fleet rankings in 2008 and 2009, began her career in fleet maintenance in 1992 on the administrative side of transit. "I became educated on the operational end of bus maintenance, which eventually translated into transit and into fleet management," she said.
Subadan worked as fleet management director until October 2010, when she became public safety administrator. She was recommended for the position by her former supervisor, the public safety administrator who was leaving his post. After County reorganization in March, she was appointed the newly created role of deputy county administrator for Public Safety and Community Services, which oversees Fire Rescue; Medical Examiner; Emergency Dispatch; Emergency Management; 911 Administration & Fleet Management; Fiscal & Support Services; Parks, Recreation & Conservation; Library Services; Family & Aging; Cooperative Extension.
"The transition was interesting. I had already worked with all the departments that were then my Fleet clients, so I knew a lot about their operations and I knew a lot of the personnel," Subadan said. Her familiarity of these departments allowed the transition to go smoother, even with a different role, she said.
As Subadan adjusts to her new position, one thing she says she misses about fleet is the level of efficiency she established in the organization, which she described as a well-oiled machine. "Life was so much simpler then," she said. "I had a huge comfort level with my organization. I had developed a really strong team."
As for her current position, "I have had different people retire in key positions, so I'm re-building the team. I have some very, very talented people who are doing a great job, so I know we'll get there, but it's kind of a whole new day," she said.
Passing on the Reigns
The County has not had a fleet director since October 2010, and Subadan believes that with the hiring of Stanton, she's leaving Fleet Management in capable hands. "Bob [Stanton] is incredibly experienced and talented. That really helps me because I know I've selected somebody who's going to be a great asset to the county and my team. There probably isn't a whole lot of advice that I can give to Bob," Subadan said.
As for Stanton's approach to leading the Hillsborough fleet, it "will be the same as it's been everywhere I've worked," Stanton said. "My role is to provide the tools, training, equipment, and support to my staff to assure their success. It's only through their success first that I can succeed. Beyond that, I'll be doing a lot of listening, questioning, and learning."
As for moves in general, Subadan said, "I think [for] anybody going to a new location or position, they need to do a thorough assessment of what they're inheriting and what the talent level is that they have to work with. They will need the opportunity to develop a new relationship with you and prove their value to the organization. Everyone needs to be open-minded."