The Fleet Visionary Awards recognized 11 honorees during the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA) annual conference at the virtual 2020 AFLA NextGen Conference, held Oct. 5 - 7, 2020.

The honor recognizes those who have brought a new perspective to running a commercial fleet with the result that the fleet is more operationally efficient, cost-effective, safer, or any combination of these by introducing new methods, efficiencies, and/or technologies.

The award, exclusively sponsored by Merchants Fleet, is designed to recognize and celebrate new voices in fleet management. A webinar on the success stories and best practices of several 2020 Fleet Visionary honorees, including the Visionary of the Year, will be hosted Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020.

Fleet Visionary of the Year: Aleece Beaulieu, senior program manager of transportation, Genentech 

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Aleece Beaulieu has been part of the Genentech organization for nearly 14 years. Presently as their senior program manager of transportation, she’s been instrumental in their 2020 goal of reducing CO2 10% from their transportation footprint. As an EV100 member, the corporation’s long term goal is to reach zero emissions by 2030.     

Beaulieu and the rest of the Genentech site/transportation team have made enormous strides toward carbon neutrality within their corporate campuses with the installation of electric shuttle buses, solar-powered charging stations and green-certified buildings. The utilization of optimal replacement strategies to transition their vehicle fleet to one that consists primarily of hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and full-electric models sets them apart among industry peers. She continues to work with her sustainability partners to build an end-to-end solution that includes fit analyses, remote, and home-charging technology and infrastructure.     

Since 2010, fuel economy increased seven points—from 22 to 29 MPG. This is as a direct result of their transition to hybrid and electric vehicles. Today, the fleet is made up of over 56% hybrid, plug-in and battery-electric units. In comparison, in 2010 that percentage was only 13%. Their CO2 emissions were cut in half as well. This reduction amounts to planting over 30,000 trees.     

Beaulieu and the entire Genentech team remain at the forefront of fleet innovation by providing ride-sharing around the city, ferry boat and bus trips to campus and fully electric vehicles for the sales fleet. 

David Farber, fleet administrator, Dish Network

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David Farber had a vision in 2020 to improve the overall utilization of Dish’s vehicle assets. He had several ideas such as streamlining accident repair management and revolutionizing preventive maintenance data analysis and processes. He did all of this while helping stand up two new fleets that would help propel Dish into the 5G wireless space. 

Utilizing his previous experience as an operations manager of Firestone Complete Auto Care facilities and his field service management experience with Dish, he was able to collaborate with business partners and vendors to successfully implement an in-house collision reporter application. This came with complete integration with Dish’s accident management company to streamline data communication. This not only is helping the vehicle’s operator fill out the collision report during a stressful accident occurrence, but it will automatically send all of the information to Dish’s accident management company and internal business units. By automating this process, supporting teams can start the notification process, scheduling inspection/repair, and triggers action to help support a replacement. 

Farber partnered with Dish’s fleet management companies in efforts to accurately reflect preventive maintenance algorithms and reporting caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This has uncovered more precise reporting and estimations which saves time verifying PM statuses and current mileages. In addition to these accomplishments, he was able to create a brand new wireless tower truck vehicle specification that will help propel Dish into the 5G business. 

Kerry McGrath, procurement manager, Siemens

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Kerry McGrath moved to the Siemens fleet department in 2017, after a lengthy career in procurement of engineered components. Along with a team of seasoned fleet experts, she offered a fresh perspective to managing a fleet of roughly 10,500 vehicles in the U.S. 

McGrath quickly had a vision to transform the fleet department, and firmly believed that any successful team must be built on a solid foundation. She started by taking a deep dive into the existing fleet landscape and validating what was already successful for Siemens, capitalizing on what was working well. After assessing the operations of the team, she decided to restructure the group. Where each fleet manager was previously responsible for a specific business within the Siemens conglomerate, McGrath transformed the team into a strategy-based group. She re-organized the team to work more collaboratively on common targets across the Siemens businesses, with each fleet manager owning a strategy for a specific part of the entire US fleet. The team set out to homogenize across businesses to further align on policy, selector and overall processes through the use of Kaizen events and workshops. 

Additionally, understanding Siemens’ commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030, McGrath and her team developed a strategy to educate and enthuse drivers about the use of electric vehicles as they set out to increase the number of EVs in the fleet. The team now tracks CO2 in addition to MPGs, and provides drivers with training on ways to operate vehicles with sustainability in mind. She also held Siemens’ first green RFP, incorporating the cost of carbon into the analysis of the OEM’s bids, and using an eBidding platform. 

Stephanie Connor, vehicle program manager, FedEx Office

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Stephanie Connor has been in fleet management for five years, during which the FedEx Office fleet grew  almost a thousand vehicles. In order to more rapidly meet the changing needs of our fleet, she helped transition from one fleet management company able to offer a more customizable service. 

Over the past couple of years, Connor’s fleet team took on several projects to improve the fleet’s safety features. Some of those projects included adding a high mount pulsing brake light to vehicles to bring awareness to braking or slowing vehicles to reduce the number of rear end collisions. They also added an engine disablement device that would allow them to track and shut down any vehicle remotely should it be stolen. The most recent fleet safety feature addition is a vehicle event data recording (VEDR) device. This is a forward and driving facing camera that records and reports on items such as distracted driving, driver behavior and accident/incident occurrences. She also helped implement a service ticket tracking process to bring visibility to service requests, including vehicle relocations, termination, decal requests and more. 

She helps operate a distributed fleet, which makes it difficult to ensure timely preventive maintenance activities. To better service the fleet she helped bring on mobile maintenance and car wash service providers to decrease courier downtime and increase efficiency. 

On an annual basis her fleet conducts a review of all commercial fleet OEMs to include pricing, cargo capacity, safety features and OTD. During this process, the team also completes a lease versus own comparison to determine which is the better financial decision for FedEx Office. She continues to explore the possibility of bringing electric vehicles into our fleet to reduce emissions and improve sustainability.

Russ Wilson, fleet operations manager, KLJ (Kadrmas Lee & Jackson)

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In his role overseeing fleet operations for KLJ and its subsidiaries, Russ Wilson is responsible for managing 275 transportation assets across an eight-state region. During his seven years at KLJ, Wilson has refined fleet operations to improve driver and administrative processes while lowering internal costs. One of his first improvements was sourcing and implementing fuel and maintenance programs. 

Another improvement was developing and implementing a flexible fleeting program that allowed the company to better adjust to seasonal demands. He also championed a different lease model and shorter vehicle cycle for the company’s long-term fleet. This new model and cycle is expected to deliver a lower cost per mile, save thousands per year on repairs, increase resale values, improve MPG, and reduce driver downtime – all while empowering the company to invest dollars previously budgeted for vehicle purchasing back into the company.    

One of Wilson’s core strengths is his eye for continual improvement. He regularly promotes process improvement by developing and standardizing company practices, including coordinating with human resources and the safety department to evaluate and update policies, and he has authored multiple fleet manuals and handbooks. He also continually implements best practices from the industry, including benchmarking with telematics to ensure safe driving behaviors. His commitment to the industry and his professional development was demonstrated when he achieved his CAFM designation in 2018, and he remains active in the fleet industry.  

Dan Baker, global commodity manager, Kennametal

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Dan Baker joined the Kennametal team in July of 2019 while previously with US Steel for eight years. His two main responsibilities were procuring one of the top three raw materials in steel and managing logistics fleet tariff pricing and allocations. 

Coming from a supply chain and logistics background, this was Baker’s first experience with fleet. Though Baker was new to fleet, he applied his abilities and strengths to make such a big impact in a short period of time with Kennametal. The biggest transformation he has brought so far was rightsizing fleet asset while procuring a bid which resulted in a projected savings of over $2.1 million over the life of the vehicles being exchanged. 

While cost savings is admirable, Baker prides himself in creating a safer environment for Kennametal’s sales employee while also standardizing and simplifying the process. Baker’s drive comes from his pleasure to assist internal customer service requests. These then turn into establishing meaningful relationships to help drive the companies needs through cross functional collaboration efforts.

Marca Brown, manager - fleet optimization, DTE Energy

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Marca Brown took over the manager, fleet optimization function at DTE Energy in March 2018. DTE is a fleet of over 5,000 assets, and traditionally has been managed from within the organization. DTE operates their own fleet garages, vehicles had been spec'd internally and ordered through local dealers. Used vehicles were "scrapped" by taking them to an auction, after having sat idle at a DTE location, sometimes for months. Also, there were limited systems for vehicle acquisitions and files, meaning most records were paper files in a filing cabinet. 

Realizing that the fleet was not using many of the best practices in place with many similar fleets, Brown went about designing and implementing processes that would modernize the fleet optimization department, improve service to internal customers, improve driver productivity, and drive down fleet costs – doing so with streamlined, proven, repeatable processes. 

Several improvements have been completed or are currently under way. This includes DTE Energy’s new partnership with a major fleet management company. With their new FMC, they are now able to more efficiently design vehicles best suited for the job; establish an order process that standardizes vehicles and pricing; automatically audit pricing against the quoted price; license new vehicles and automatically renew plates before expiration; deliver new vehicles directly from the upfitter to the DTE business unit; and take used vehicles directly for auction and sells them for the best price, at the quickest rate.

Shelby Beaver, corporate fleet manager and operations, Belfor Property Restoration

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Shelby Beaver leads the entire fleet department, which consists of more than 3,000 emergency service vehicles, on a daily basis.

She develops, implements, and maintains processes and procedures required to effectively coordinate Belfor’s fleet lifecycle, maintenance, safety requirements, fuel program and fleet driver provisions. She is consistently recognized by colleagues for accurate, efficient and professional service to the overall organization.

Some of her notable contributions to the fleet include significantly reducing vehicle downtime issues by coordinating spare vehicle pools in three national locations, and constantly researching ways to improve maintenance and replacement schedules. This includes Interface with fleet vendors to negotiate the most cost-efficient options and upfit.

She also effectively utilizes her FMC’s web-based fleet management system to oversee the custom build process of vehicles, analyzing data to evaluate and control operating expenses. She directly mentors fleet drivers on issues relating to maintenance spending, maintenance-related downtime, replacement cycles and how to maximize the use of vehicles, and collaborates with HR and payroll departments to ensure drivers are added to accurate fuel plans for tax purposes.

Nancy D'Anna, fleet operations manager, Bayer

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Nancy D’Anna was tasked with harmonizing Bayer fleet operations following a recent acquisition by the company. Bayer, like many major corporations today, routinely is acquiring or divesting businesses, and is asking their fleet operations to seamlessly integrate newly acquired businesses into their fleet operations program. As part of the Bayer/Monsanto acquisition all aspects of fleet had to be integrated. This involved merging a new mix of vehicles, encompassing a different set of business requirements and doubling the overall size of the Bayer fleet program. 

D’Anna knew that an early critical step toward harmonization was to evaluate each program using mostly gap analysis and benchmarking tools. She focused on items like policy, procedures, SOP’s, business requirements and communications. Change management was necessary to take all aspects of two fleet programs, identify and bundle best practices to consolidate into one unified program. The biggest challenge was the work related to both systems and process integration which involved working closely with cross functional business partners internally such as HR, accounting, finance, tax etc. as well as external third-party providers. This required a very detailed and organized project plan and a strong focus on timelines to ensure a successful, fully integrated program. 

Lessons learned through this successful integration included gaining a full understanding of different business requirements, operating systems, interfaces, processes, contracts, policies etc.; building a detailed project plan with realistic timelines; establishing a core team with the right contacts; ensuring work is properly maintained, prioritized and completed timely/accurately; being flexible and be prepared to enact contingency plans/seek alternatives if necessary; keeping stakeholders informed of key milestones and engage when necessary; and understanding that complexity lies within the details.

Mason Owen, supply chain management analyst, Marathon Petroleum Corporation

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Mason Owen helped develop a single comprehensive fleet governance policy for Marathon Petroleum Corp., including vehicle standards, improved processes for leasing and/or buying, upfitting, operating, maintaining, and disposal of fleet vehicles.

He helped provide fleet vehicle replacement parameter recommendations to management, and negotiates pricing, procurement and management of company assets. Owen also helped improve operational procurement efficiency and effectiveness by developing clear processes and controls for category management and contract administration (including internal stakeholder interactions), which has helped to avoid last minute, ill-advised, and costly emergency purchases of goods and services for key category areas.

He also monitors and documents vehicle accidents, repairs, and driving records; and developed standardized metrics to compare and evaluate supplier performance across groups area of responsibility.

Beth Wood, fleet manager, Mistras Group

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Beth Wood serves as the fleet manager for Mistras Group. As the first centralized point of contact for the vehicle fleet, her priority as fleet manager was to fluidly institute a large amount of change in an effort to create a cohesive fleet and seek opportunities for cost and time savings. Immediate initiatives included a thorough audit of vehicle assets and site visits to better understand vehicle utilization. A proactive rightsizing of the fleet helped to eliminate unnecessary and unused vehicles. This was soon followed by a streamlining of all new vehicle acquisitions (manufacturer, models, etc) with an emphasis on the addition of safety-related options, as well as a telematics rollout for nearly the entire fleet. 

Initiatives for 2020 included partnering with Mistras' safety, compliance, and marketing departments to rightsize, rebrand, and generally update the fleet. A complete revision of the fleet policy, as well as site visits to both manufacturers and upfitters to obtain a thorough understanding of options, safety features, and a dissected inside view of vehicles were completed this year. As a result of the emphasis on vehicle safety, Mistras Group saw a reduction of vehicle accident claims of 50% drop between 2018 and 2019. 

Current and future fleet initiatives include a second round of right-sizing the overall fleet, revising the evolving fleet policy, additional streamlining of vehicle selectors, the possible creation of a vehicle pool based on region, reduce vehicle idling, as well as providing ongoing, updated training on systems and policy for drivers and administrative staff.

About the author
Andy Lundin

Andy Lundin

Former Senior Editor

Andy Lundin was a senior editor on Automotive Fleet, Fleet Financials, and Green Fleet.

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