Photo by Gene Tewksbury.

Photo by Gene Tewksbury.

Imagine being in a room that houses all the brightest public fleet minds, with fleet managers who have new, innovative ideas to improve the industry, and with those who offer the technologies and products that help maintenance facilities run better. If you have problem, someone in that room has a solution, or at least will be able to discuss potential solutions.

That's the Government Fleet Expo & Conference (GFX), which kicks off its ninth year in Nashville, Tenn., June 20-23.

GFX is a conference for public fleet professionals, providing the specific networking opportunities fleet managers need. By talking to their peers and seeing them, in some cases, year after year, fleet managers can make connections in the industry, learn from each other's mistakes and successes, and find out about new ideas and trends.

What's the Take-Home Value?

Many of those who attend have found the conference worth attending again and again.

David Barker, CPFP, CEM, fleet manager for the City of Franklin, Tenn., has attended GFX eight of the nine years he's been a fleet manager. Barker, who serves as this year's emcee, looks forward to the event every year, both for the educational experience and to catch up with other fleet professionals who have become friends.

"The ability to converse, and have open discussions concerning anything in fleet, happens at GFX. This opens different paths for doing the same things, but sometimes more efficiently," he said. "I have taken something each year from GFX and applied it to my fleet."

Brian Franklin, CPFP, administrative manager, City of Tulsa (Okla.) Asset Management Department, another long-time conference attendee, has taken home various ideas from the conference.

"Each year I meet new colleagues, and we exchange contact information in order to carry forward collaborative and networking efforts," Franklin said. "Each year I garner three to five new ideas and concepts that can be implemented in my fleet organization."

These include learning about online remarketing, leading to a recent contract with two online remarketers; the importance of providing a minimum of four hours per month of technician training, leading to implementation of a training minimum at the Tulsa fleet; and redesigning pay plans to reward technicians for ASE certifications, leading Tulsa to create a similar program.

In addition to the networking and ­traditional educational sessions, Franklin enjoys attending the pre-event fleet facility tour to see other maintenance facilities, and his favorite session is the "Big Solutions Roundtable," where attendees discuss their biggest challenges and brainstorm ways to solve them.

Discover Something New

For those arriving early, staying later, or coming with family, Nashville has an abundance of sights and experiences. Located at Music City Center in downtown Nashville, attendees can walk to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum as well as the Bridgestone Arena, check out live music and the famous honky-tonks, and join the line dancing.

The 2016 conference tackles new topics in innovative ways — and familiar topics in new ways. Attendees come to connect with each other, to celebrate, to learn, and to bring back something actionable for their fleets.

With the best and brightest in the same place, there will always be something new to learn or discover.

7 Notable Sessions at GFX:

  • Strategic leadership keynote with Bill Griffiths
  • Detroit on exiting bankruptcy
  • Alt-fuel strategies after gas prices plummet
  • Vehicle replacements after the recession, with Mercury Associates
  • Succession planning: case study & how-to
  • What you can learn from the private sector
  • Shop configuration for maximum efficiency