Managing the Financial Side of Commercial Fleets

Yerem Named 2011 Fleet Executive of the Year

Communication, collaboration, and not to mention a number of highly successful initiatives led the three-year Nestlé veteran to the Fleet Financials honor.

May 2011, by Shelley Mika - Also by this author

AT A GLANCE

Dean Yerem attributes the following to being named Fleet Executive of the Year:

■ Reducing fleet size based on driver use.

■ Setting levels for personal use fees.

■ Collaborating with fleet managers and fleet management companies.

■ Communicating openly.

■ Listening carefully and making sure all sides are heard before making decisions.

As purchasing manager for Nestlé Business Services (Nestlé's Shared Services Organization), Dean Yerem is responsible for fleet, fleet management, small package, office supplies, furniture, and office services for the U.S. and Canada, and supports global and regional initiatives as well. Nestlé operates more than 5,000 vehicles in the U.S. and Canada and close to 29,000 units worldwide. Yerem supports several fleet managers throughout the company, with the goal of bringing value to the fleet and those managers.

In his three years with the company, he's seen big results. Working with fleet managers on a daily basis, they have streamlined Nestlé's operations and improved the fleet. In doing so, they've not only helped the organization become a greener operation but have also yielded savings for the company.

Now, they have validation for all their hard work: Yerem is this year's Fleet Executive of the Year, an award co-sponsored by The CEI Group, Inc.

"It is a great honor to receive this award," he said. "I am in a unique position being able to support the fleet managers on decisions behind the scenes, and it is really great to be recognized for the work we have accomplished over the past couple years."

"Managing fuel costs is one of the most critical and difficult challenges facing fleets. Dean Yerem has demonstrated leadership and innovation in tackling this problem on a global basis for Nestlé and has shown us that it can be done. All the candidates were worthy, but his selection sends a particularly timely message to fleets around the world," said Wayne Smolda, CEO and founder of The CEI Group, Inc. "CEI has been proud to be a co-­sponsor of this award with Bobit for the last 10 years. It is a very fitting way to acknowledge that fleet best practices are achieved through the cooperation among managers and executives with different but complementary tasks and skills."

Yerem has implemented several highly successful fleet initiatives over the last three years, and those initiatives are yielding major savings.

"My role at Nestlé Business Services - Procurement allows me to be in a great position to support the operating companies in North America. Many employees in Nestlé don't have as many opportunities to gain that unique exposure in working with all the businesses," he said. These operating companies include Nestlé Nutrition, Nestlé Purina PetCare, Nestlé USA, and Nestlé Waters North America.

Prior to joining Nestlé, Yerem held a similar role with The Walt Disney company for four years. "It was a wonderful experience and really helped ready me for working for a global company, like Nestlé, with its many complexities," he said.

CEI Founder and CEO Wayne Smolda (left) and Ed Bobit (right), founder and chairman of Bobit Business Media, congratulate Dean Yerem on his Fleet Executive of the Year win after the awards presentation at the NAFA I&E in April.
CEI Founder and CEO Wayne Smolda (left) and Ed Bobit (right), founder and chairman of Bobit Business Media, congratulate Dean Yerem on his Fleet Executive of the Year win after the awards presentation at the NAFA I&E in April.

Name-Making Initiatives

Yerem's recognition as Fleet Executive of the Year is due in large part to his leadership role in initiatives that streamline overall fleet processes and help promote greener operations, while also driving key savings for the company.

"In my role, I need to continually find the best value and benefit for the company while being aware of the different needs of my stakeholders. Trying to align opportunities and initiatives is one of the main things I do on a day-to-day basis. Nestlé does an outstanding job of always providing opportunities, training, and goals that allow the individual to succeed - and contribute to the company's overall success, too."

Yerem's first goal in his role was to identify the differences between the operating companies he supports and look for ways to influence the cost points for the fleet. One initiative he implemented was to convert a U.S. fleet from six- to four-cylinder units over a three-year period. This transition has improved the performance of the fleet and saved on capital and fuel expenditures.

This effort also resulted in a greener fleet, an achievement Yerem took advantage of promoting further. "We made sure to communicate 'green' driving practices and followed up with quarterly newsletters for reinforcement of the success we were gaining. It not only became a green initiative, but these environmentally friendly driving habits have reduced our accident rate as well."

Overall, Yerem and his teams have suggested adjustments in the selector list and a focus on more fuel-efficient vehicles, which will lower CO2 by more than 3,000 tons each year.

Another effort spearheaded by Yerem in the last three years was an evaluation of personal-use fees between the various operating companies. This led to a phased implementation of set levels for personal-use fees for all drivers.

A third initiative Yerem led was to reduce the number of vans in the fleet over time. By surveying drivers, Yerem's team identified those vans unnecessary to the fleet and has now made major reductions in the van fleet and cost over the past two years.

In 2009 alone, Yerem's initiatives in the U.S. and Canada have seen a reduction of more than 300,000 gallons of fuel and a 15-percent reduction in emissions, resulting in savings for the company.

Yerem's most recent success was to tie in Nestlé's global partnerships in a bid process with a car manufacturer that covered all of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. "We leveraged our position with some of our partners and created new partnerships along the way," Yerem said.

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