Bob Stanton gives the opening keynote address at GFX 2012.

Bob Stanton gives the opening keynote address at GFX 2012.

DENVER – At the 2012 Government Fleet Expo & Conference (GFX), Bob Stanton, fleet manager for Hillsborough County, BOCC, gave the opening keynote address. His address was titled TOPGUN Management: 5 Easy Targets to Trigger for Locked on Excellence. Emceeing the event was Kelly Reagan, fleet manager for the City of Columbus, Ohio.

General Motors sponsored the opening keynote, and the company’s Jack Smith briefly discussed the automaker’s commitment to customer service and the range of vehicles GM offers.

Stanton’s keynote started with a clip from the 1980s movie "Top Gun." He likened the “boots on the ground” on the deck of the aircraft carrier in the opening clip to the fleet services departments at government entities across the U.S., where the technicians and fleet management staff keep the police cars, ambulances, fire vehicles, and other assets used by public-sector fleets running and in good working condition.

He said that as a judge for the 100 Best, the thread running through all the submissions was the interest in improving demonstrated by fleet management professionals. From there, Stanton discussed the five “targets,” mentioned in his presentation’s title, to focus on, quoting the mnemonic All Good Kids Love Milk. The first letter of each word stands for a phrase that explained part of Stanton’s philosophy for achieving excellence in work and life.

All – Aim high in your work life, your hobbies, with your families.

Good – Get the big picture. Stanton said that this phrase used to be about getting all the information needed to make the right decision but said it’s about more than that now. Stanton went on to say that he believes fleet management professionals are in the customer confidence business; they make sure that the people driving and operating vehicle and equipment assets can get from point A to point B confident that everything will work properly when they need it most.

Kids – The first letter of this word stood for “keep your eyes moving.” Stanton emphasized the need to pay attention to what’s going on, for example noticing the accomplishments of employees.

Love – “Leave yourself out.” Stanton said the awards are for the people back home. He described the best fleet organization as one where the fleet manager is on the bottom of the organizational chart. He said it’s his job to provide his staff with the support and training they need to do their jobs.

Milk – “Make sure others see you.” Stanton said that fleet managers need to make sure that their supervisors, elected officials, and the community sees the fleet organization and learns about its accomplishments. He encouraged fleet managers to work with their communications departments to get the word out and to speak at local community organizations.

One other key point that Stanton made was his suggestion to fleet management professionals attending GFX that after the show, they should write a one-page white paper about the event that highlights what the fleet managers learned. He said this would prove the value of the conference to management and help each fleet manager hold themselves accountable and follow through on what they learned, and planned to do, after attending.

Kelly Reagan closed out the event with a reminder to appreciate those in our military and our emergency service responders, noting that close to Denver there are fire fighters working to put out a major forest fire.

By Greg Basich