HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA - The City of Huntington Beach, in an effort to reduce expenditures and improve its fleet efficiency, sought out the recruitment of a fleet manager who had experience with fleet asset management, the production and use of management information, replacement planning and life-cycle cost analysis, fuel management, and other fleet management activities beyond fleet maintenance operations.

In March 2011, Robert LaRoche became the fleet operations manager. Upon his arrival at the City, LaRoche began centralizing fleet operations with the consolidation of Police, Fire, Public Works, and Beach Operations. The speed and success of this consolidation is largely contributed to the professionalism of the 17 fleet operations staff working out of two facilities and the cooperation of its customers, according to LaRoche.

Fleet consolidation has led to significant savings and service improvements. Some achievements include rightsizing of the fleet, reduced fuel usage, and improved regulatory compliance. Efforts to reduce fleet size by all departments resulted in a reduction of 60 vehicles, making the fleet size 873. This reduction in fleet size and decrease in the number of take-home vehicles resulted in a savings of approximately $1.2 million with another $102,000 saved by avoiding emission retrofit requirements. Along with the change in fleet size, the City also realized savings in its fuel consumption. Diesel fuel usage was reduced by 11,337 gallons and gasoline was reduced by 45,106 gallons, which also eliminated 554 tons of greenhouse gas CO₂ emissions from the previous year. Improved service is noted with 97 to 98 percent average daily fleet availability and 80-percent next-day turnaround time on service and repairs, LaRoche stated.

Fleet Operations is taking an aggressive approach to addressing environmental issues as well, LaRoche said. In the future, each replacement vehicle will achieve the greatest level of emission reductions possible, while still meeting the operational needs of the City. Fleet Operations encourages the selection of vehicles of a smaller class size whenever possible to achieve increased miles per gallon, lower emissions, and reduced cost. It recognized the need to pursue the use of several technologies in its efforts to reduce a negative impact on the environment. Environmental concerns brought attention to hazardous waste generation. Huntington Beach Fleet Operations utilizes aggressive "Best Management Practices" (BMP) by reducing consumption, reusing, and recycling many, if not all, aspects of its operation, according to LaRoche.

This next year will bring more changes and improvements for the City of Huntington Beach, LaRoche stated. Fleet Operations has already researched and selected for purchase a Web-based fleet management system along with a passive fuel management system. With the implementation of these new programs within Fleet Operations, fuel accountability and tighter tracking of expenditures and performance of the operations will be achieved. Partnerships with local colleges have resulted in improved training opportunities for Fleet Operations staff and internships for students seeking a career in the automotive industry. Fleet Operations is currently discussing with other local municipalities the possibility of sharing resources and providing services that would be mutually beneficial to reduce cost even further. Being recognized as a Government Green Fleet/100 Best Fleet in North America, becoming an ASE Certified Repair Facility, continuing to reduce expenditures, and minimizing its carbon footprint are just a few of the other goals that Huntington Beach Fleet Operations looks forward to accomplishing in the upcoming year.

LaRoche has more than 21 years of fleet management experience, nine years with the County of Los Angeles and its Sheriff Department. Most recently, he worked for the City of Glendale, Calif., for 14 years managing the Glendale Water and Power (GWP) Fleet Services Section. During his time at Glendale, he project-managed the purchase and implementation of a fleet and fuel management system. He also managed the construction of the GWP fuel facility, achieved ASE Certified Repair Facility status, and earned GWP a ranking of 18th in the Top 100 Fleets in North America in 2008. Among other accomplishments during his time at Glendale, LaRoche became a Certified Automotive Fleet Manager (CAFM) and received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management.