As president of the National Association of Fleet Administrators (NAFA) Foundation and as a member of various other fleet organizations, Jim Anselmi is constantly looking at the big picture and how current trends will affect the future of fleet management. Anselmi, who oversees a fleet of 1,350 vehicles as director of fleet operations and travel for Lorillard Tobacco Company in Greensboro, NC, also isn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves and take a hands-on approach to keeping his company’s fleet costs down.

One cost-cutting measure was a new security cage system in his fleet of Dodge Caravans in which the drivers install the cages, saving on upfitting costs. That versatile approach helped Anselmi win Automotive Fleet’s Fleet Manager 2002 Award. The award, co-sponsored by Wheels Inc. and the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA), was presented April 28, 2002 in Toronto.

To keep his company’s fleet costs down, Anselmi keeps an eye on costs from the time before the vehicle is acquired and through the resale process. “We just try to buy as low as we can and sell as high as we can by selecting the right vehicle to fit our operational needs at this time,” Anselmi said.

He began his fleet career with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, where he worked for 31 years, starting as an automotive mechanic apprentice, and worked is way to manager of the Central Automotive Division in 1986.. He joined Lorillard in July 1996 after taking early retirement from the Port Authority.

Industry Involvement Helps in Job

Anselmi is currently president of the NAFA Foundation. He is also a past president of NAFA, and a recipient of the NAFA Distinguished Service Award. He is also executive vice president for AFLA and is a member of the GE Capital Fleet Services Client Advisory Board. Anselmi says fleet managers are working to defend their fleets’ existence these days, and for that reason, he takes a proactive approach to fleet management. While president of the NAFA Foundation, Anselmi helped develop a lease vs. buy vs. reimburse software. Being proactive, Anselmi says he answers questions from Lorillard management about lease vs. buy vs. reimburse before the question is asked.

“I use the NAFA Foundation software and perform the lease vs. buy vs. reimburse analysis every 18 months and send it to the powers that be,” said Anselmi, who supervises a staff of four people. “In my report, I write, ‘We continue to evaluate lease vs. own. Leasing is still the most economical option for us. If you want to discuss this in detail, please let me know.’ For the most part, management accepts the analysis. The software is a good tool for fleet managers.”

Anselmi was also involved with the NAFA Foundation’s fleet customer satisfaction benchmarking study with vehicle manufacturers that completed its second year in the fall of 2001. The study surveyed NAFA members on how well GM, Ford, and DaimlerChrysler serve their fleet needs. Anselmi said the Foundation benchmarking study involving the manufacturers validated the fleet industry’s belief that it is a relationship-based industry. The manufacturer sales representatives are one of the most important bridges between the manufacturer and the fleet manager, for information, service, and knowledge, he said.

“The benchmarking study helps the manufacturers see exactly what’s important to the fleet manager,” Anselmi said. “They may be spending money on Web development, but if you look at the survey ratings, although Web development is important, it’s not the highest, nor is it even in the top half. “The benchmarking study allows the manufacturers to learn exactly what’s important to the fleet manager, which in turn helps them direct their resources – because everyone has limited resources – to improve their services to fleet managers,” Anselmi said. “We, as fleet managers, get better service as well.” The Foundation will next do a similar customer satisfaction benchmarking study this year involving major fleet management companies.

Keeping Costs Down at All Phases of Vehicle Service

Anselmi does a cost-benefit analysis on the vehicles that are needed for the Lorillard fleet, with an eye on selecting vehicles that will have the highest resale value. This year, the fleet implemented a security cage system in its minivans that doesn’t require upfitting. The minivans are shipped by the manufacturer directly to the dealership. The cage is sent directly to a Lorillard driver, who can install the system in about 30 minutes. The system saves upfitting costs, and it also improves resale value because it is not permanently affixed to the minivan, and speeds up order-to-delivery time.

Another way the security cage saves money is that no additional shelving needs to be installed in the vehicles, since the cage has its own shelves. “Now the drivers can put a third seat in the minivan for personal use on the weekends, or they can remove the cage and all the seats if they have to move material around,” Anselmi said. “We no longer do any type of permanent modifications to the inside of the vehicle, so we anticipate a higher resale value for the vehicle.”

Department Keeps an Eye on Drivers for Cost Savings

The Lorillard fleet department also watches over company drivers to keep fleet costs in line. The department looks at exception reports received from its fuel management company, and if a driver uses premium or full-serve, the department sends e-mails to the driver, copying the driver’s supervisor, letting them know the fleet department is watching. “We push the drivers into using the national accounts, where we get better discounts,” Anselmi said. “We hold their feet to the fire on performing preventive maintenance, and we reward drivers for having no accidents. We try to help not-so-efficient drivers by giving them training. If they’re real bad, we take disciplinary action, and that helps keep costs down.”

Also over the past couple of years, the fleet department has installed a global positioning system and cellular phone security system in selected vehicles. It has already saved the company money. In one case, a vehicle was being burglarized, and the cellular phone security system alerted the police, which prevented the vehicle from being damaged further. In another case, a driver’s car was in a secured garage in an apartment complex, and the control center telephoned the fleet driver, telling him his vehicle was being burglarized. The fleet driver was able to hold the car burglar against a wall until the police got there.

Not All Technology Is Productive; Evaluation Is Necessary

Asked what some top issues are today in fleet management, Anselmi said fleet managers are thinking about the same things as always. “It’s getting harder to control costs, whether it’s acquisition cost or operating cost, and we’re trying to do all of this with less staff,” he said, adding that a full-time employee recently left his fleet department, and that person was replaced with a half-time employee. “You tend to re-evaluate all the things you’re doing,” he said. “We were all gainfully occupied before that, so when you lose half a person, you look for half a year’s work that maybe doesn’t need to be done. There seems to be ways to pick up some efficiencies.” A future issue in fleet management will be for fleet managers to know when to use in-vehicle technology, and not necessarily jump at every gadget or innovation that’s introduced, Anselmi said. “You need to evaluate which ones have the most impact and the most benefit to your fleet,” he said. “Some telematics products have a benefit, and some may never be productive for fleets. The way technology is evolving so quickly, it’s sometimes difficult to say whether it’s going to be good or bad. A lot of it depends on service and price.”

The Nominees…

Jim Anselmi, Lorillard Tobacco Co.

Barbara Banks, E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co.

Bob Brown, Xerox Corp.

Kellie Duenke, Monsanto Corp.

Randy Burwell, Valero Energy

Jack Harris, University of California, Davis

Theresa Ragozine, Johnson & Johnson

Josie Sharp, Aventis

Linda Taylor, Diebold Inc.

Jack Young, Niagara Mohawk Power Corp.

The Finalists… Jim Anselmi, Bob Brown, Josie Sharp

Award in Winner’s Name Sent to Sept. 11 Fund

The Fleet Manager 2002 Award ceremony took place April 28, 2002, in Toronto. Anselmi’s name will be inscribed on the larger sustaining trophy. In the past, a $5,000 scholarship, jointly funded by Automotive Fleet, Wheels Inc., and the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association, was given in the winner’s name to an accredited university business school, but Anselmi requested that it instead be donated to the Neil D. Levin Foundation, which goes toward the education of children of those Port Authority of New York & New Jersey employees who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. GE Capital Fleet Services also contributed an additional $5,000 to the fund.

Hoffmann Wins Fleet Executive of the Year Tim Hoffmann of 3M has been named the 2002 Fleet Executive of the Year by Automotive Fleet’s sister publication, Fleet Financials. The award was co-sponsored by CEI, an accident and risk management company headquartered in Philadelphia. Hoffmann, staff vice president of administrative services for the St. Paul, MN-based firm, adds this honor to his previously received Automotive Fleet Fleet Manager of the Year Award, which he received in 1990. The 2002 Fleet Executive Award was presented to Hoffmann in conjunction with the Fleet Manager 2002 award on April 28, 2002 in Toronto. The two other finalists for the award were David McKeone, assistant vice president, director of fleet management services for Crawford & Company in Atlanta; and Stephen Martz, assistant vice president, real estate and facilities management, for Geico Direct Insurance in Chevy Chase, MD.