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Upper Midwest Utility Fleet Conference

I drove several hours from Chicago to Red Wing, MN because I had heard of a grassroots organization called the Upper Midwest Utility Fleet Managers Council (UMUFC) was having their annual Fall meeting and wanted to check it out.

The nucleus of the group is out of the Minneapolis area. But I met a utility fleet manager that came from as far as Springfield, MO. Many of the Midwest Co-op Utilities find this the most time efficient way to hear what new products vendors are offering and share ideas on problem solving from maintenance to complying with federal and state regulations.

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Pictured L – R: UMUFC Officers Bernie Kolnberger – Chairperson, Curt Erickson – Program Coordinator, Steve Kallsen – Hospitality Coordinator, Doug Shoemaker – Membership Coordinator/Historian, Mike Donahue – Secretary/Treasurer, missing from picture Matt Gilliland – Vice Chairperson.

UMUFC meets on a bi-yearly basis to share information. There were about 50 utility fleet managers in attendance in a large ballroom. The managers come from some of the largest utilities in the upper Midwest as well as smaller cooperatives and district wide utilities to share information and learn from each other. In between vendor presentations there were “break out discussions” where a utility fleet manager would bring up a topic or challenge they were facing and the group would share information. For example: The group discussed how the current CSA 2010 regulations are impacting their day to day operations. They shared information on how each utility is dealing with complying with the regulations. It through this problem / resolution sharing format where the group bases its tag line “Promoting Better Fleet Management Through Mutual Exchange”.

Rather than smaller rural utilities or co-ops feeling like they might be on an island these meetings serve as a real opportunity to share solutions. One of the biggest questions the group had for me was, “are there any other regional organizations out there that are like us?” I had recalled meeting a Pacific Northwest utility fleet manager that had organized a similar group in the Seattle-Portland area but other than that was not aware of similar regional groups.

Certainly Utility Fleet Professional being the only publication 100% dedicated to the utility fleet market would encourage and support these regional grassroots meetings. I worked several years with a lumber association and saw first hand how these regional meetings could provide excellent education and networking opportunities. If you would like UFP to help organize and promote a regional utility fleet managers meeting? Please contact us.

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(Photos of UMUFC provided by Kurt Moreland attached)

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