Managing the Financial Side of Commercial Fleets

2016 Fleet Executive of the Year Nominees Announced

July 2016, by Staff

File Photo
File Photo

The Fleet Executive of the Year award was created to recognize exceptional leadership by managers who hold the title of vice president or higher and/or have other responsibilities beyond fleet. Four fleet executives have been nominated to receive the award later this year.

A panel of industry judges will evaluate criteria submissions including cost-saving initiatives, policy setting, creation of innovative programs, and cultivation of fleet manager training and management.

The Fleet Executive of the Year award, along with the Professional Fleet Manager of the Year award, will be announced at the 2016 AFLA conference, which will be held Sept. 18-21, at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina, San Diego, Calif. 

Michael Ahart

Ahart
Ahart

  • Company: Dean Foods
  • Title: Vice President, Transportation
  • Total Vehicles: 11,000 Class 7-8 trucks/tractors/trailors; 1,500 passenger vehicles
  • Staff supervised: 16 Years in Fleet: 11
  • Replacement Policy: Tractors - 10 years/800,000 miles; trucks - 10 years/350,000 miles; passenger cars - three to five years/approximately 100,000 miles.

Michael Ahart is responsible for ensuring the company has a safe and reliable fleet of vehicles for its logistics operation for the delivery of its products, including the acquisition and maintenance of the company’s fleet vehicles.

Ahart has been with Dallas-based Dean Foods since August 2000, where he has held a variety of operational and financial leadership positions before being promoted to his current position in 2006. Ahart has held membership with the ATA’s Technology Maintenance Council and the Natural Gas Vehicles (NGV) Fleet Forum.

He has implemented several fleet initiatives during his tenure with Dean Foods. These include the standardization of vehicle specifications, centralizing purchasing and leasing, outsourcing titling and registration, improving vehicle maintenance, consolidating fuel purchases, and prioritizing employee safety. Additionally, by the end of 2009, Dean Foods outfitted all of its Class 7 and 8 vehicles with electronic onboard recorders.

In 2011, Ahart deployed the first Class 8 compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles into the fleet.

All of these initiatives have resulted in significant cost reductions for Dean Foods, but have also boasted non-financial benefits. For example, diesel fuel consumed had been reduced by more than 8 million gallons (16%) between 2007 and 2012. This helped Dean Foods meet one of the many sustainability objectives outlined in its Corporate Responsibility Report.

He has also helped deploy Smith System Driver Training and many other comprehensive employee safety programs and processes in his fleet to create a work environment where employees remain safe throughout the workday.

Robin Lewis

Lewis
Lewis
  • Company: Ferrellgas Partners, L.P.
  • Title: Vice President, Procurement, Fleet and Asset Management
  • Total Vehicles: 2,500 Class 7&8 Truck/Tractors/600 Medium Duty trucks/600 Light Duty and 1,300 Trailers
  • Staff supervised: 4 Direct and 10 Indirect
  • Years in Fleet: 9 Replacement Policy: Varies

Lewis develops and has oversight of a variety of comprehensive corporate purchasing and fleet strategies, each core to Ferrellgas’ missions of efficiency and optimized asset value.

Throughout her tenure Lewis has aggressively approached fleet challenges, streamlined operations and embraced innovation to drive performance and longevity for Ferrellgas’ large, varied, and widely distributed fleet of vehicles — with the goal of safely and cost effectively servicing its national customer base.

In June 2015, Ferrellgas acquired Bridger Logistics, a crude oil midstream logistics provider with operations in 14 states and one of the largest for-hire crude oil carriers in America. Lewis assumed oversight of Bridger’s fleet and shortly reduced its asset count by more than 30% and its operating cost by more than 50%. Further, she has improved and consolidated fuel pricing contracts for the hauler and revamped its maintenance agreements for a projected annual savings exceeding $1 million.

Lewis represents Ferrellgas’ interests through active leadership roles in a number of associations, including NAFA, the National Truck Equipment Association, and more. An added testament to her leadership skills is the number of personal and professional honors and appointments, such as a seat on the National Propane Gas Association’s audit committee, selection as one of Women in Propane’s original advisory board members, and Kansas City Business Journal’s 2007 Women Who Mean Business honor.

Julie Pedelini

Pedelini
Pedelini
  • Company: Johnson & Johnson
  • Title: Director, North America Fleet, Travel & Meetings 
  • Total Vehicles: 8,800 in North America (about 7,700 in the U.S.)
  • Staff supervised: 4
  • Years in Fleet: 3.5
  • Replacement Policy: Typically 36-48 months and 60,000 miles.

Pedelini currently leads the North American fleet, travel & meetings category, which includes 8,800 fleet vehicles across the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. Approximately 88% of these vehicles are self-funded. Her responsibilities include category strategy and supplier management focus, with a strong connection to the business to ensure the company’s programs and policies meet their needs and continue to deliver value.

In the fleet, travel & meetings space, Pedelini is primarily concerned with the safety of the company’s drivers/travelers, while also balancing compliance, sustainability, employee satisfaction, and cost. She is focusing her management efforts on making the fleet as sustainable as possible. For example, in the U.S., two of the company’s sectors have worked with the fleet to mandate hybrid or diesel sedans as the standard, thus reducing the fleet’s CO2 emissions. Pedelini led a pilot of a green driving program in 2014-2015. Overall, Johnson & Johnson has delivered a 20% reduction in fleet CO2 since 2010. The fleet has also introduced more vehicles with advanced safety technology with a goal that all of the fleet vehicles in North America will have advanced technology, such as forward-collision avoidance by 2020.

Pedelini is continuing to look to optimize the company’s supply base; globally, 90% of its vehicles are with 10 OEMs, and more than 70% are with seven OEMs. In the U.S., fleet has recently reduced its supplier base to five OEMs. Pedelini has worked with Johnson & Johnson’s fleet management company to develop a cargo policy. Under Pedelini’s leadership, the fleet has also revised its all-wheel drive eligibility.
Pedelini is a member of several client advisory boards representing both OEMs and fleet management companies.

Paul Youngpeter, CAFM

Youngpeter
Youngpeter
  • Company: Rollins, Inc.
  • Title: Managing Director, Fleet & Corporate Services
  • Total Vehicles: 9,200
  • Staff supervised: 4 (fleet); 32 (total)
  • Years in Fleet: 6.5
  • Replacement Policy: 4 years/95,000 miles (trucks); 3 years/80,000 miles (edans and SUVs)

Over the last several years, Paul Youngpeter has successfully led a transformation of the Rollins fleet program and strategy, while overcoming some unique challenges. Moving Rollins from a closed-end to open-end leasing model resulted in an initial benefit of $14 to $25 per vehicle per month, equating to $8 million in total savings.

Youngpeter also worked through a major change in vehicle offering when it was announced that the Ford Ranger was no longer being manufactured, a vehicle that Rollins had used for more than 20 years. The company then decided to transition to the Toyota Tacoma, and later to the larger-sized version of the model. The change helped Rollins establish an annual best practice of vehicle and upfitting reviews.

As an annual practice, Youngpeter and his team review their business to see if vehicle needs have changed. This includes an extensive review of vehicle options and meeting with supply chain vendors to ensure that the right vehicle for the job is put on the road across all eight Rollins brands, as business needs and market conditions change. Youngpeter also enforced regular vehicle cycling as a practice, which has helped keep downtime to a minimum with a cost of maintenance per-vehicle-month consistently under $60.

Once vehicle selection and volumes are determined each year, Rollins holds a one-day planning meeting with all suppliers and vendors involved with the manufacturing, upfitting, and delivery of their vehicles. This has helped drive order-to-delivery improvements and increases in customer satisfaction over the past four years.

At the same time, Rollins implemented its first managed maintenance and fully-automated registration program. This delivered significant cost savings, allowing Rollins’ employees to focus on their core business objectives. For example, utilization of the Wheels-provided maintenance service is up 98%, with large mechanical breakdowns down 50%. The renewal requirements compliance is now at 95% and branch level productivity and satisfaction has also increased.

All of this was done while keeping senior management informed and up-to-date on every move because fleet is so critical to their business.

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