Wheels, Inc. has celebrated the 45th anniversary of its Maintenance Assistance Program (MAP), the Des Plaines, Ill.-based fleet management company announced.

The program originated as a service that enabled drivers to obtain replacement tires locally through national suppliers. Today, the program includes an nationwide network of 38,000 strategically-selected facilities offering maintenance and repair services including tires, oil changes, brakes, glass, rentals, and towing. 

Wheels has grown the network over the years by selecting the right suppliers, monitoring their performance and building solid relationships with them in order to help clients achieve optimal fleet.

"An important part of the success of our Maintenance Assistance Program over the past 45 years has been the partnerships we've built with our network maintenance providers," said Brian Simek, senior manager of maintenance and mechanical repair. "The relationships are transparent, collaborative, and focused on delivering the best experience and value possible for our clients."

Also integral to the program's success are the highly qualified advisors who approve and oversee work; handle supplier questions; and provide accountability at national and local levels, according to the company.

Wheels' commitment to continuing education requires that MAP technical advisors become ASE-certified. The majority of Wheels advisors have also achieved advanced certification, with more than 30 advisors holding Master Technician or Dual Master status (car and truck repairs). Eleven Wheels technicians hold World Class status (car, truck, and auto body repairs). Just 1% of U.S. automotive technicians – fewer than 2,000 – have achieved World Class status since the program began more than 30 years ago.

In late January, Wheels hosted an employee open house at its headquarters to showcase artifacts documenting MAP's history.

"Today everything is automated," Simek said. "We push emails to alert drivers of upcoming or past-due maintenance work, and just launched an updated version of our mobile app that uses a combination of  GPS and ZIP code locator technology to provide drivers faster access to nearby network suppliers."