At a Glance
Accomplishments and offerings from local and government-specific fleet organizations include:
- Vehicle exhibitions and conferences.
- Quick gathering and dissemination of information through surveys and e-mail distribution lists.
- Face-to-face networking.
- A small group environment where everybody knows each other.
Local or specialized fleet associations have been around for a long time — what have they accomplished and what do they offer that fleet managers find so valuable?
Technician training, valuable information, and dollar savings are some benefits. One Northern California fleet association offers an annual technician training school with classes costing a fifth of normal amounts, leading some area fleet managers to save up their training needs for the annual school. It even sometimes offers to subsidize the cost of private classes if they’re open to other association members. One Southern California fleet association, partnering with the state Department of Toxic Substances Control, received a grant for its work on disseminating information about the use of re-refined oil, with grant money going back into the association. A Northwest association stated that its biggest contribution is the ability to obtain and share answers fast, thus making fleet managers’ jobs less complicated.
And how about belonging to an association where everyone knows each other’s names?
Many of these association groups are concentrated within a specific area or a single state and attract mostly city and county fleet managers. Close geographical location allows for regular face-to-face meetings and discussions about area-specific challenges, and those specialized in a particular facet of fleet offer the benefit of similar issues.
Board members of various local or government-specific associations nationwide shared with GF their associations’ accomplishments, goals, initiatives and offerings, and how their organizations have changed and grown.
The Advantages of a Networking Group
One of the most oft-cited advantages of a fleet industry association is the ability to network and learn from other fleet managers. Jeannie Wilson, fleet manager for the Missouri Department of Transportation and president of the National Conference of State Fleet Administrators (NCSFA) stated that fleet managers benefit from “talking to members on a regular basis so that we’re not reinventing the wheel each time we have an issue.”
Members can reach out to each other and ask for advice, bids, experiences, and other fleet-related issues, Wilson said. Because of the NCSFA’s specific focus (state and university fleet managers nationwide), the association is able focus on a few areas and do them well instead of trying to cover too many needs.
Doug Bond, transportation services manager for Alameda County, Calif., and president of the Public Fleet Supervisors Association (PFSA), which serves the Northern California region, agrees. “A lot of what we do as fleet managers is similar to what other fleets have dealt with or are dealing with,” he said.
“In these challenging times, it’s more important than ever to utilize the vast experience and knowledge that is available through networking with your industry peers,” added Paul Starling, transit maintenance manager for the City of Gainesville, Fla., and president of the Florida Association of Government Fleet Administrators (FLAGFA).
“When [association members] are looking for an answer, they know they can come to a meeting and there’s going to be a person next to them who will give them an insight of what they’re doing, or if they don’t have it, they’ll give them a recommendation of who to contact,” said Jannet Malig, director of Cerritos College’s Advanced Transportation Technology & Energy Center (ATTE) in California and secretary of the Municipal Equipment Maintenance Association (MEMA), a Southern California association. “They can come back to their management team and say, this is what everybody in our 20-mile radius is doing.”
The other benefit is information, which some association board members see lacking.
“We’re providing the current viable information that will allow [fleet managers] to be successful in their actual fleet operation,” Bond said.
View a gallery of association photos, past and present, here.
Focusing on Specific Needs
In addition to regular meetings, each association offers a variety of programs designed to fit member needs. For example, annual shows and equipment showcases are one way to allow members to view the newest vehicles and technologies. The PFSA hosts an annual equipment show where vendors are invited to bring their equipment and products to showcase. MEMA hosts a similar show that brought in about double the normal meeting attendance last year.
“We talk about vehicle manufacturing changing, and we talk about some of the technologies available. Then we allow members to go out and sit in and test drive and look at and put their hands on all this equipment,” said Paul Condran, fleet and equipment maintenance manager, City of Culver City, Calif., and vice president of MEMA.
For another Northern California fleet association, the focus is on technician training. David Renschler, CPFP, vehicle maintenance manager at the City of Fairfield, Calif., and president of the Public Equipment Managers Association (PEMA), said the association’s big annual event, usually held during spring break, is “PEMA School.” Fleet technicians learn about CAN diagnostics, Mode 6 diagnostics, ABS, OBDII, TPMS diagnostics and repair, air conditioning, and other technical and management courses taught by OEM representatives, parts suppliers, and fleet managers.
Three years ago, in an attempt to cut costs, PEMA joined forces with the Sacramento Builders’ Exchange to hold PEMA School in conjunction with the Sacramento Safety Expo. The merger means PEMA’s 130-200 students can attend classes created for the Sacramento Safety Expo, and the approximately 800 Builders’ Exchange students have access to PEMA-organized classes. This fusion not only expands the classes that PEMA members can take, but it’s a better value for the technician because one registration fee covers three days of a larger selection of classes, Renschler said.
“They have OSHA classes, forklift training, CPR, things that construction companies need to provide for their employees. It made sense because a lot of construction companies have mechanics,” Renschler explained.
The Public Fleet Managers Association (PFMA) in Washington and Oregon also focuses on training for its members. In addition to regular training meetings every other month, two special meetings are held twice a year — one for parts supervisors and buyers so they can share their experiences, and the other for shop repair supervisors and technicians to discuss equipment repair issues.
Additionally, the association offers a Technical Fleet Training Program, consisting of six classes per year in areas such as hydraulics, drivability, brakes, ABS, etc. PFMA negotiated reduced group training costs for members, and fleet agencies that volunteer to host can send one or two technicians at no cost, according to Bill DeRousse, fleet consultant and the PFMA’s information officer.
The Rocky Mountain Fleet Management Association (RMFMA) holds its annual conference in the fall in one of the five states where there is a chapter (Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas, and Utah), said Bob Patterson, retired director of facilities and fleet management for Arapahoe County, Colo., and president of the association. The annual conference lasts four days and includes a show floor and educational sessions.
The NCSFA hosts regular “virtual roundtable” teleconferences about general topics. The group recently started a Department of Transportation (DOT) roundtable session, specific to the needs of DOT fleet managers.
“I think the DOTs have some unique operational needs different from what the state and university,” said Chris Hoffman, manager, Transportation Services, Oklahoma State University, and past president of the NCSFA.
More advanced communication options have allowed association members to stay in contact like never before, resulting in increased information sharing and discussion. Nearly every association has an e-mail distribution list, used to disseminate information about meetings, events, newsletters, and questions to the overall group. Websites can include information such as the membership roster, e-mail addresses and phone numbers (sometimes hidden behind a log-in screen), upcoming events, promotions and discounts for classes and shows, etc.
Patterson recalled that a few years ago, when diesel emissions requirements were changing, electronic communication with RMFMA members was especially useful. “It was really beneficial to have the organization because we got to share a lot of information rapidly, and not only within a chapter. There was a lot of e-mail traffic and website postings all over that I think were very helpful to our members,” he said.
View a gallery of association photos, past and present, here.
For fleets with a geographically spread membership, such as the NCSFA, the internet has allowed fleet managers to stay in contact. Because NCSFA members meet in person once annually, the association began organizing monthly roundtable sessions held through GoToMeeting, a Web conferencing site.
“It was pretty common 10 years ago where you’d see NCSFA members and you’d spend a great week with them, you’d learn a lot, you come back, and you wouldn’t talk to them again until the next year,” Wilson said. “Now we’re talking to them at least once a month.”
The sessions began in June 2011, and topics have included CNG, vehicle leasing, motor pool management, and vehicle maintenance and repair.
Wilson added that the association has been allowing members to suggest surveys for years, transitioning to the Survey Monkey website for ease of use. Members who have questions for the rest of the group can send a request to the association secretary, who sets up the survey and distributes the responses.
The RMFMA’s current goal is to implement a brand new website with a social media area for members for discussion, further advancing its members’ abilities to connect with one another. The group hopes to have the new functionality available by June.
Still Seeing Growth
As the desire to connect with peer fleet managers grows, some associations are also seeing growth.
MEMA membership has nearly doubled since 2007, with associate membership — for vendor members — escalating considerably. A part of that may be due to active recruitment. Rick Longobart, facilities, fleet, and central stores manager for the City of Santa Ana, Calif., and president of MEMA, said the change in the structure of the organization allows them to be more present, including being at various trade shows and conferences.
“We’re out and about, and I think our name recognition and getting information to others has become a valuable [thing] in the industry. People know who we are,” he said.
And sometimes, recruitment isn’t even needed. The RMFMA has also seen considerable growth since its beginnings with the creation of a fifth chapter (Texas) in 2009. One Arizona chapter member took a job in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and expressed interest in bringing the organization there.
“He spoke with the board about his interest in establishing a chapter down there, and he contacted his counterparts in Texas to see if there was an interest,” Patterson said. “They are a big, strong group right now.”
As for the NCSFA, whose name suggests that it’s a group exclusively managers at the state level, Hoffman said a few municipal fleets have expressed an interest in joining. While the board, as of publication, has yet to decide whether to open membership to municipalities, it had already expanded its scope once before, with the inclusion of university fleets.
While association members benefit from their groups, it’s also a way for them to contribute to the industry.
“I believe the most important thing we offer fleets then and now is the comfort that other fleet managers are there as a resource to willingly and unselfishly offer their knowledge and support whenever needed,” Starling of FLAGFA said.
And as for board membership, usually voluntary and consisting of up to a few hours of time per week, what keeps association board members donating their time?
“I think we’re all now giving back,” MEMA’s Longobart said. “Without the people we knew in the past, we wouldn’t be where we are today. We’re just trying to pay it forward.”
New Fleet Association Forms in Ohio
A Central Ohio shared services agreement that included fleet services has led to the beginnings of a public fleet association in the state. After a number of cities signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) for shared services, fleet managers in the area convened for a CNG Consortium, “meeting and working together as a community to strategize, design, and implement alt-fuel,” said Kelly Reagan, fleet administrator for the City of Columbus, Ohio.
While still a fledgling organization that has yet to be named, Reagan said he hopes to structure the group after the Municipal Equipment Maintenance Association (MEMA) in Southern California. The Ohio group is in close contact with the MEMA board to shape the organization in a similar manner.
The support Reagan received for his fleet’s transition to compressed natural gas from other fleet managers reinforces the fact that joining forces to share ideas will lead to better efficiencies.
“We visited Culver City (Calif.), which has been in the CNG business for the last 20 years, and they have welcomed us with open arms to teach the right and the wrong ways of getting this done,” Reagan said. “If we can share information from 2,500 miles away, then think about how much better we can do it with other cities right in our backyard.”
The organization targets all public-sector fleets in the State of Ohio. So far, nine fleets have officially signed on, and seven additional public entities have expressed an interest in joining, attending meetings to gather information about the group, Reagan stated.
GFMA Aims to Unite Fleet Associations
The GFMA (Government Fleet Management Alliance) is a group of associations whose mission is to bring fleet groups together in order to educate public fleet professionals, promote the field of fleet management, and elevate the awareness of fleet operations that are performing at competitive levels.
The group is established by Government Fleet magazine and its parent company Bobit Business Media.
For more information, visit www.gfmalliance.com.
Understand the Acronyms
Getting confused with all the acronyms? These fleet associations are spread across the nation and focus on different locations and specializations.
CCFMA - California County Fleet Managers Association
Focus: California County fleets
What It Offers: Networking and benchmarking
Leadership: Tom Fung, acting president
Meetings: None for last the last couple of years due to travel restrictions by counties
Membership: 21 fleet members
FLAGFA – Florida Association of Government Fleet Administrators
Focus: Association for government fleet administrators within the State of Florida
What It Offers: FLAGFA offers ongoing on-site training for member technicians, the Dan James Scholarship program for youth interested in pursuing a career in fleet management, consulting services for local governments in the state, and networking resources for members.
Leadership: Paul Starling, president
Meetings: Two conferences that include vendor exhibits
Membership: 207 regular members, 35 associate members (government employees related to fleet), 422 affiliate members that include public utilities services, suppliers, and supportersWebsite: www.flagfa.org
MEMA – Municipal Equipment Maintenance Association
Focus: Southern California-based public fleets, with members in various parts of the Country. Membership consists of fleet managers and employees as well as associate vendor members.
What It Offers: Best industry practices, education, training, equipment specifications, environmental trends, outreach programs, grant opportunities, and an annual equipment and vehicle display
Leadership: Rick Longobart, president
Meetings: every other month
Membership: 296 fleet members; 244 associate membersWebsite: www.memasocal.org
NCSFA – National Conference of State Fleet Administrators
Focus: An association for state and university fleet managers and directors throughout the United States
Leadership: Jeannie Wilson, president
Meetings: Annual business meeting at the NAFA I&E
Membership: 96 fleet members; 29 corporate members
PEMA – Public Equipment Managers Association
Focus: Public fleet managers and vendor members in Northern California
What It Offers: Information and networking, but the main focus is training, with the annual PEMA School drawing up to 200 students
Leadership: David Renschler, CPFP, president
Membership: 128 government fleet members; 40 associate members
PFSA – Public Fleet Supervisors Association
Focus: Designed to effect and encourage the free interchange of knowledge pertaining to the management, maintenance, and repair of motor vehicles and equipment operated by public agencies in Northern California
What It Offers: Discussion about equipment procurement, law enforcement equipment upfitting, emergency and public works equipment display, California emissions regulations, and training opportunities. The association holds an annual equipment and vehicle showcase and an annual golf tournament with the local NAFA chapter.
Leadership: Doug Bond, president
Meetings: every other month
Membership: emailed Doug Bond 5/11 about numbers/accomplishment; lm 5/15Website: www.pfsa.org
PFMA – Public Fleet Managers Association
Focus: Provides additional education and to answer questions for fleet managers working in public-sector fleets in Washington and Oregon.
What It Offers: PFMA provides an avenue to fleet personal to have questions answered relating to fleet issues and examples of policies and procedures that have been written by other fleet organizations. The intent is to decrease the amount of time new managers spend researching fleet issues.
Leadership: Fred Chun, president
Membership: 115 member organizations
Meetings: every other month
RMFMA – Rocky Mountain Fleet Management Association
Focus: Five chapters in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas, and Utah. Members come from both public and private agencies, and the focus is not just on the fleet managers but all levels of an agency’s fleet organization.
What It Offers: Part of the association’s mission is education and networking. It offers mentorship programs and scholarships to further education in the fleet industry, from high school students to technicians to fleet directors, and holds an annual conference.
Leadership: Bob Patterson, president, and Israel Garza, chairman of the board
Meetings: Chapters hold quarterly meetings
Membership: 786 regular members, 462 associate membersWebsite: www.rmfma.org
For a PDF of the local industry associations directory, click here.
View a gallery of association photos, past and present, here.
- Doug Bond, transportation services manager, Alameda County, Calif.
- Paul Condran, fleet and equipment maintenance manager, City of Culver City, Calif.
- Bill DeRousse, fleet consultant
- Chris Hoffman, manager, Transportation Services, Oklahoma State University
- Rick Longobart, facilities, fleet, and central stores manager, City of Santa Ana, Calif.
- Janet Malig, director, Advanced Transportation Technology & Energy Center (ATTE), Cerritos College, Calif.
- Bob Patterson, retired director of facilities and fleet management, Arapahoe County, Colo.
- Kelly Reagan, fleet administrator, City of Columbus, Ohio
- David Renschler, CPFP, vehicle maintenance manager, City of Fairfield, Calif.
- Paul Starling, transit maintenance manager, City of Gainesville, Fla.
- Jeannie Wilson, fleet manager, Missouri Department of Transportation