(L-R) Brennan, Griffiths, Reagan

(L-R) Brennan, Griffiths, Reagan

In May, Government Fleet magazine named the three finalists for the Public Sector Fleet Manager of the Year award. Sponsored by General Motors, the award honors fleet managers for efficient operations. The annual award is now in its 11th year.

The three finalists have numerous recent career accomplishments, including overcoming obstacles to develop a fleet replacement program, reducing petroleum consumption and realizing a $2 million a year savings in fuel costs, and expanding technology use within fleet operations.

Government Fleet will announce the winner of the 2015 Public Sector Fleet Manager of the Year award at The Honors Celebration at the Government Fleet Expo & Conference (GFX), which takes place June 8-11 in Denver.

Michael Brennan, CEM, Fleet Services Division Manager, Manatee County, Fla.

Fleet Size: 1,346
Maintenance Facilities: 4
Years in fleet: 36

How did you start in fleet and how did you get to where you are now? I started in 1979 here, in what was called “Motor Pool” at that time, as a mechanic trainee. Working on the night shift transit maintenance staff, I worked my way up to become a senior technician. When the Fleet Services Division was created in 1986, I became a fleet supervisor before being promoted to fleet operations chief and then fleet services division manager.

What are some recent fleet accomplishments? Using information in our Faster inventory system, we were able to identify non-stock, fast-moving critical parts needed to increase inventory to meet the increased demands created by an expansion of transit services. After the first three months, our review shows 136 part orders issued from this expansion, saving more than 250 days of downtime.

What do you think are some traits of a great fleet manager? Great fleet managers understand how to motivate their staff not only to meet divisional needs, but to prepare for the future. They need to fully understand the competencies and inter-­dependencies of different areas of the industry and empower staff to make decisions. At times they need to be the boss, the coach, the technical advisor, the mentor, the accountant, the customer’s advocate, and always the cheerleader.

What’s the most exciting part about your job? I have a saying: “The Future is Now!” The industry is fluid, with technology and increased serviceability demands constantly changing. This will only increase as we progress into the future, and we have the ability to shape it.

What’s a pressing industry-wide problem and how do you think it can be solved? The attraction of future generations into the industry. Increasing salaries is not the only thing we need to work on — it’s the technician’s image. This is a high-tech field of endeavor, and younger generations need education and exposure to understand that this industry is a viable profession.

Bill Griffiths, Fleet Division Chief, Montgomery County, Md.

Fleet Size: 3,617
Maintenance Facilities: 13
Years in fleet: 24

How did you start in fleet and how did you get to where you are now? I started as a heavy equipment mechanic in the U.S. Air Force 24 years ago. While working as contractor for the USDA and repairing heavy equipment and fire trucks, I fell in love with the Forest Service mission and scenery, and I applied for a fleet manager job in Colorado. I later moved to the Smithsonian Institution fleet and then to Montgomery County.

What are some recent fleet accomplishments? Last year, my staff and I established a dedicated training and quality assurance program to expand the technical expertise of staff. Through our efforts, we developed a new training curriculum, conducted more than 30 training classes, and created a new employee on-boarding program. And our new quality assurance program has produced impressive results: fleet reliability has increased 43%, downtime has decreased 20%, and overall maintenance cost per mile has decreased 8%.

What do you think are some traits of a great fleet manager? A great fleet manager should be passionate about the job, focused on data, customer driven, willing to mentor, and politically astute. He or she should also have excellent leadership and communication skills as well as technical expertise.

What’s your biggest career goal this year? I’m always learning and growing. One of the things that I love most about my team is the fact that we are constantly challenging each other to improve. I want to be able to meet their expectations and provide strong, focused leadership so we can, as a team, accomplish our goals and objectives.

What’s a pressing industry-wide problem and how do you think it can be solved? The biggest concern I hear from my counterparts is the shortage of skilled technicians. I think to overcome this challenge you need to make investments in your team and help your staff grow. It starts with effective recruiting and continues with investments in advanced training, which will not only help retain existing technicians but also produce the next generation of shop supervisors.

Kelly Reagan, Fleet Administrator, City of Columbus, Ohio

Fleet Size: 6,400
Maintenance Facilities: 3
Years in fleet: 34

How did you start in fleet and how did you get to where you are now? I began my fleet experience cleaning cars for rental and eventually worked in the car rental business for many years, running operations in the U.S. and Canada. I transitioned to public sector fleets when I started working for First Vehicle Services in Fort Wayne, Ind., then moved to the Columbus fleet.

What are some fleet accomplishments? During my years here, the Columbus fleet as a team effected real change with immediate cost savings to the city by reducing inventory by millions of dollars, reducing supplier services by millions annually, reducing safety incidents that led to annualized reduced medical payouts of more than 500%, consolidating and creating programmatic training for technicians, activating cooperative regional services, and leading the charge to expand use of gaseous fuels in central Ohio.

What do you think are some traits of a great fleet manager? Achieving change requires creating and articulating vision. A great fleet manager should also walk and talk with all employees, be a good listener, and most importantly, serve and support their fellow employees.

What’s the most exciting part about your job? I love the challenge of bringing fresh ideas to agencies, creating vision, selling a model to the administration, then the rush of implementing change, while giving credit where credit is due: to the employees doing all the work.

What’s a pressing industry-wide problem and how do you think it can be solved? There are fleet managers who tell me what they cannot do. We need to become more solution-conscious, not problem-oriented, and effect change within our organizations. We achieve change when we have confidence and follow-through in our decisions by doing our homework and using data to prove our theories.

About the Award

Industry professionals nominate their peers for the Public Sector Fleet Manager of the Year award. Nominees are asked to fill out a questionnaire detailing their operations and accomplishments. A panel of 14 judges consisting of working fleet managers managing diverse fleets across the country judged this year’s award. Candidates are judged on the following criteria: business plan, technology implementation, productivity, policies, preventive maintenance program, utilization management, replacement program, customer service, fuel management, and safety.

The additional nominees this year are:

Wayne Corum, interim director of property management, City of Fort Worth

Fleet Size: 3,540

Accomplishment: Expanded responsibilities to land, buildings, leases, and vehicle fleet. The city’s renewed national fuel ­contract reduces prices by 2 cents per gallon.

Daryl Greenlee, fleet manager, City of Orlando

Fleet Size: 3,072

Accomplishment: Expanded the fleet’s authorized in-house warranty provider status to include GM, Ford, Chrysler, Autocar, Kenworth, Heil, and Sutphen, which has reduced vehicle downtime for these vehicles.

Greg Hansen, fleet administrator, Washington State Department of Transportation

Fleet Size: 3,485

Accomplishment: Purchased the first state-owned electric car and negotiated a contract to lease Nissan Leafs. All sedans that are not yet electric or hybrid are E-85 compatible.

Mary Joyce Ivers, CPFP, PWLF, fleet and facilities manager, City of Ventura, Calif.

Fleet Size: 394

Accomplishment: Achieved 2014 No. 1 Small Fleet award in the Leading Fleets program. Fleet was recognized with eight model practices by the American Public Works Association.

Steve Kibler, ACFM, fleet manager, City of Loveland, Colo.

Fleet Size: 693

Accomplishment: Moved from an ownership to lease model for yellow iron, with the lessor  performing maintenance at the city site. The savings the first year is $105,000.

Robert Martinez, deputy commissioner, New York City Police Department

Fleet Size: 9,003

Accomplishment: Fleet participated in an internship program with high school students —  several former interns have been hired as full-time technicians. 

Peter Scarafiotti, CAFM, CEM, CPFP, director & automotive engineer, City of Mesa, Ariz.

Fleet Size: 2,000

Accomplishment: Achieved certified fleet management operation (CFMO) recertification, began online data capture for the shop floor, and expanded the warranty recovery program. 

Annette Spitsbergen, fleet manager, Wyoming State Motor Vehicle Management System

Fleet Size: 1,150

Accomplishment: Technology improvements include moving to an online reservation system, going paperless with shop work orders, and providing laptops for each technician.