Nation's Equipment Leaders Recognized

By Larry Stewart, Executive Editor | September 28, 2010



Fleet Masters Management Team
The Virginia DOT's public sector Fleet Masters management team includes (bottom, from left) Don Sprouse, John Puzenski,
Blair Kinker, Erle Potter, Dick Bnistalli, Bran Maul, (top, from left) Carl Huskey, Jim Pearman, Jim Brewbaker, Tommy Atkins, Jami Denton, and Carl Stevens.
Fleet Masters
Fleet Masters of private industry are led by Barriere Construction's Pat Klaman (left), Brett Todd, and Ben Tucker.

The Association of Equipment Management Professionals (AEMP), a national organization dedicated to advancing professionalism in equipment management, presented its first Fleet Masters Awards to Ben Tucker and his equipment-management team at Barriere Construction, and to Erle Potter and his team at the Virginia Department of Transportation.



Tucker accepted honors for the nation's top private-sector fleet and Potter for the nation's top public fleet during AEMP's annual Management Conference Jan. 25 in New Orleans. The Fleet Masters Award was created as an element of the Partnership For Growth. This partnership, struck between AEMP and Construction Equipment magazine, was founded to raise industry awareness of the resources AEMP offers to improve professionalism in the equipment-management industry. Sponsors who recognize the value of AEMP's programs joined the alliance—Caterpillar, International Truck and Engine, and John Deere Construction Equipment. They wished to call attention to standards for excellence through the Fleet Masters awards.

Barriere, this year's top private-sector equipment manager, is a heavy-and-highway contractor operating within a 100-mile radius of New Orleans. The company, which specializes in concrete, asphalt, utilities, and heavy industrial work, operates a fleet of 131 off-road units, 45 on-road vehicles, and numerous class-2 to class-8 vehicles. The fleet has a value of approximately $13 million.

Surpassing its goal of 80 percent uptime, the company's fleet has reached the 90 percent level. They effectively utilize outsource partners to achieve their goals and reduce costs. Tucker and his team's planning and preventive maintenance have saved the company millions of dollars.

Tucker is a veteran of 19 years at Barriere. He says when the company was facing rising costs and shrinking profits four years ago, Barriere turned to a consultant, the Marshall Institute, to change the company's culture.

"They assessed where we were and what we needed to do," Tucker explained. "We're not in a reactive mode anymore. Now we're in a preventive, proactive mode."

The Marshall Institute's guidance convinced Barriere to retrain most of its people. Other important changes included getting rid of equipment that wasn't being used to its potential. Fleet size was reduced by one-third. The company also saves money by purchasing all is parts from NAPA on a cost-plus basis. NAPA keeps its inventory at Barriere's facility and guarantees that parts will be available on site at least 70 percent of the time.

According to Tucker, the key to his team winning the first Fleet Masters Award was "the amount of time we dedicated to making changes in training and maintenance."

The other award winner, Virginia Department of Transportation, was cited for its Business Process Improvement Plan, which was established four years ago to identify and prioritize the most critical issues facing VDOT's equipment program.

"This plan allowed us to focus on our most critical problems and address them in an orderly fashion," Potter said.

To implement the process, Potter, who has been with VDOT for nearly 33 years, and his top management team established the agency's equipment-management priorities. Next, an expanded team including the nine district equipment and facilities managers, area maintenance superintendents, residency maintenance operations managers and district maintenance engineers helped fine-tune the plan. Since the program was launched, issues that have been addressed include preventive maintenance, utilization, warranty management and disposal of equipment.

"We've done our homework and we're able to address many important issues," Potter said.

"The plan is a never-ending process," he added. "We'll look at it every year, and it will be the guiding principle in our decision making."

VDOT has about 10,000 employees, and its fleet includes 32,000 pieces of equipment with a replacement value of $534 million. The equipment is maintained at 83 VDOT repair shops throughout the state. In addition to the interstate and primary roads in Virginia, VDOT maintains all county roads except those in Arlington and Henrico Counties.

The department of transportation with the third most road mileage in the United States, VDOT leads the nation in governmental ASE Blue Seal Certified Shops and has more Certified Equipment Managers than any other fleet. The CEM program was established by AEMP to elevate professional standards, enhance individual performance, and recognize those who demonstrate knowledge essential to the successful practice of equipment maintenance and fleet management.

In the private-sector category, the first runner-up was Senior Vice President Andy Agoos and his team at Hubbard Construction Co. in Orlando, Fla. Second runner-up honors went to Director of Heavy Equipment Doug Diemer and his team at Waste Management in Houston, Texas. Among public-fleet nominations, first runner-up honors went to Division Chief Sam Houston and his staff at the City of Jacksonville, Fla. The second runner-up was Director of Fleet Management Marvin Duncan and his staff in Sedgwick County, Kan.

The Association of Equipment Management Professionals (AEMP) is an individual-membership organization comprised of equipment managers. Its members are responsible for the purchase, maintenance, employee training, shop facilities, and parts management of leading corporations and government entities that utilize heavy, off-road equipment. Associate members represent the major manufacturers and suppliers to the heavy-equipment industry. For more information about the Fleet Masters Program or about the Association, contact AEMP at 970/384-0510 or visit the association's website at