The Florida Association for Governmental Fleet Administrators (FLAGFA) celebrated 40 years at its conference last week. The conference, which took place at the Tradewinds Island Resort in St. Pete Beach, was held in conjunction with the NAFA Sunshine State Chapter and the Florida Utility Fleet Managers Association (FUFMA).
About 300 fleet professionals were in attendance at the event, which featured a sold-out vendor show that included about 30 vehicles on display, said Sean Williams, central services director for Collier County Sheriff’s Office in Florida and association president.
Remembering Earlier Years
Nine past presidents were in attendance to help celebrate the association’s 40 years.
Milton Reid, retired general services director for the City of Gainesville, was one of these — he joined the association in 1984 and served as president from 1985 to 1987.
“When we first started, there were about 12 of us attending. We would meet in somebody’s conference room, and we’d collected money to buy donuts,” he recalled. “I am amazed today when I looked at our balance sheet on the treasury report.” The treasury report listed more than $100,000.
Sharan Fosbinder, who retired as assistant fleet manager for Orange County, is another former president who attended. She joined the group in 1987, later becoming its first female president from 1996 to 1998. She recalled meetings back then having about 30 fleet managers, and they were still collecting money for donuts.
One of the ways the association grew was by relocating its meetings, she said.
“We decided to leave the Orlando area, even though it was a centralized location, hoping to pull more people in if we had a more desirable place,” she said. “So we moved to the beach in Daytona, and people loved it.”
The association still has its conference every spring in Daytona Beach, in addition to the fall conference in St. Pete Beach.
More than three decades later, the discussions continue to revolve around topics similar to when the association began, Reid and Fosbinder said.
“Back then, we were talking about being recognized by our bosses and what strategies we can get for people to realize that we’re not shade-tree mechanics, and how important we are to the organization we work for,” Reid recalled.
Fosbinder recalls a big emphasis on fighting privatization: FLAGFA helped bring fleet services for the cities of Gainesville and Winter Park back in-house after privatization. Other concerns during Fosbinder's early days with the association included ASE certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and EVT certifications from the Emergency Vehicle Technician Certification Commission.
This year’s conference sessions focused on leadership, technician training, and selling the value of fleet management.
“We’ve been around 40 years, and we continue to grow the association,” current president Williams said. “One of our focuses over the last three to four years has been scholarships with NATEF-accredited schools. We’ve reached our goal of eight and we hope to keep those going continuously with the hope that students remember the government fleets and want to come work for us.”
He noted that this was a project he has been continuing with immediate past president Tim Calhoun, CAFM, fleet director for Palm Beach County Fire Rescue. Calhoun was awarded the Presidential Distinguished Service Award at the conference.
The association also announced the board for next year. Daryl Greenlee, business manager for fleet for Monroe County will be the next president. Gary McLean from the City of Lakeland will serve as vice president; Brianne Hayes from Sarasota County will serve as treasurer; and Bryan Lucas from Orange County will serve as secretary. Williams will move into the past president role.