If you organize it, they will come

Samuel P. Lamerato
Superintendent of Fleet Maintenance
City of Troy, Michigan
Member, APWA Fleet Services Committee
Presenter, 2005 APWA Congress

This year's 8th annual Fleet Maintenance seminar at Shanty Creek, Bellaire, nestled in the upper part of Lower Michigan, was a resounding success. The seminar is organized each year by Sam Lamerato, Co-Chair of the Michigan APWA Education Committee, and for the second year in a row registrations for attendees and vendor displays were sold out. You and/or your chapter may want to consider developing a similar training program for public fleet professionals in your area. The Michigan Chapter has experienced great support for their statewide fleet education program, while increasing the visibility of public works and the Michigan Chapter.

  The DaimlerChrysler booth at the conference

This year's conference began with a half-day session on May 24, starting at 12:30 p.m. This allowed attendees and vendors time to arrive and get settled in before the official beginning of the program. Each attendee received a canvas tote bag with a folder that included a detailed agenda and a roster of attendee and vendor telephone numbers. The majority of participants were from the State of Michigan, but there was one attendee who drove in from Evanston, Illinois.

The program began with a half-day agenda of speakers and technical sessions. Bill Sarsfield with Bendix kicked off the seminar with the latest developments in air disc brake technology. Jane Morgan with Permatex was very entertaining in her discussion about how to use liquid tools to save time and money. Tom Koedam with the Dana Corporation was very informative in his discussion on driveline setup, u-joint installation, drive shaft angles and lubrication. Attendees were given the opportunity to ask questions and have them answered by the technical professionals. That night everyone enjoyed a delicious dinner and conversation with their peers.

Wednesday included the full-day program session. Randy Owen with Mercury Associates Fleet Management Consulting spoke about the tough economic times facing municipalities in the last few years, and the interest among elected officials in the potential to save money by privatizing fleet services. This was a topic of great interest to all in attendance.

Additional technical sessions on Wednesday included:

  • Matt Oliver with Michigan CAT who reviewed engine maintenance for C7, C11 and C13 ACERT engines. A question-and-answer session followed his presentation.
  • Robert LaRoche, Fleet Manager with the City of Glendale, California, spoke about preparing reports for city budgets.
  • Allan Richardson with CCG Systems referred to the APWA publication Top 10 Performance Measures for Fleet Managers and the value of this publication to fleet managers.
  • Dave Wagner with NAPA Brake & Chassis gave an extremely informational talk on brake evolution and ABS systems.

  Attendees checking the conference schedule

The day concluded with Neil Harsh of Purcell Tire & Rubber and Dan Upson with Bandag explaining the procedure and benefits of tire retreading. Wednesday night all participants were invited to the Elgin/Federal Signal hospitality room for a barbeque and good conversation.

The last day of the conference was also a half-day program. Bob Pflibsen with Vactor reviewed the Vactor pump, fan and front reel maintenance. George Messner, Equipment Maintenance Supervisor with Livingston County Road Commission, discussed the advantages and disadvantages of installing your own truck equipment, including plows, underbody scrapers, dump bodies, etc. The session concluded with Sam Lamerato, Superintendent of Fleet Maintenance with the City of Troy, who spoke on educating citizens about services provided by the Fleet Department, and the value and benefits of knowledgeable citizens. All speakers received excellent evaluations from conference participants.

  One of the well-attended educational sessions at the conference

The technicians enjoyed the one-on-one conversation with manufacturer representatives and vendors. They also had the opportunity to get together with their peers and discuss common problems and solutions. At the end of the training seminar each attendee received a certificate of completion along with all the valuable information they had acquired. Each was also eligible to win door prizes.

APWA chapters should consider developing similar training programs for their state fleet managers and technicians. The Michigan Chapter has found these education programs to be very well attended and to serve as a funding resource. The chapter currently hosts two fleet manager/technician training sessions each year. Their upcoming programs have been scheduled for November 2, 2005 in Frankenmuth, Michigan and the 9th annual Shanty Creek conference May 23-25, 2006.

If you would like to discuss planning details or other information you can contact Sam Lamerato, Michigan Education Committee Co-Chair, at lameratosp@ci.troy.mi.us.

Sam Lamerato will present an educational session at the APWA Congress in Minneapolis entitled "In-sourcing as a Revenue Stream." The session is on Tuesday, September 13, at 2:30 p.m.