In a pre-show call for a fleet industry podcast, the interviewer asked me to talk about UFP and our audience to get insight into the range of topics we might discuss during the episode.
I shared what I’ve learned from speaking with many of you over the past four years. After I finished, the interviewer responded, “That’s amazing how much [utility fleet professionals] are responsible for and how much they must know compared to other types of fleets.”
He nailed it. Exactly.
As a fleet manager in the utility industry, there’s a high level of sophistication you bring to the job that’s not required in many other sectors. That’s because you have so much more on your plate than what you would deal with, say, managing an urban delivery or pharmaceutical sales fleet, where you may have a handful of vehicle types you’re working with – box trucks, pickups, vans and sedans.
But in the utility world, it’s a whole different realm. You’re managing road vehicles, trailers, off-road equipment and all-terrain vehicles. At some utility companies, even aviation assets, like helicopters and drones, are managed by the fleet department.
With road assets alone, you’re writing specs for the full gamut of vehicle types, from cars all the way up to Class 8 tractors, to accommodate a wide range of jobs.
And you need to know a lot about accessories and upfits that strike the right balance between crew productivity and safety – such as truck-mounted bodies, strobes, compressors, cranes, aerial buckets and digger derricks.
You’re also a talent evaluator, recruiter and coach who manages a maintenance shop of skilled technicians and provides them with the safest possible environment to work in.
You negotiate complex multimillion-dollar equipment deals with a wide range of suppliers, where only a small mistake can create massive headaches for you, your team and the company as a whole.
And if you’re like many utility fleet professionals, you’re also leading the way in green fleet initiatives, such as with natural gas and electrification, bringing an even higher level of complexity to your job when it comes to equipment specs, procurement and maintenance.
I’m sure this just scratches the surface of all that you have on your plate. And a lot of what you do often goes unnoticed – until something goes wrong or an issue with a vehicle arises. But as I reflect on your role and responsibilities and all that you do as a utility fleet professional, you have my utmost respect.
Sean M. Lyden