Sarasota County Fleet Services recognized among 100 Best Fleets in the Americas

Team rises from ranking of 43 in 2023 to 13 this year

The Sarasota County Fleet Services team receives recognition in late April at the NAFA Management Association Institute and Expo. Contributed photo

In late April, Sarasota County’s Fleet Services team was honored by the NAFA Fleet Management Association, earning a spot in the 100 Best Fleets in the Americas list for 2024, county staff has announced.

This is the second consecutive year that the county group has received such recognition, a news release notes. Moreover, the team rose from its ranking at 43 last year “to an impressive 13th [place] this year in the Americas,” a news release points out.

During their regular meeting on May 22, the county commissioners joined County Administrator Jonathan Lewis in recognizing the achievement.

“We’re in a service industry,” Lewis explained. “All we do is provide service in Sarasota County. … But without our fleet team, we wouldn’t be able to do very much of that at all.”
Lewis noted that county vehicles range from the firefighting engines to those used to transport new books to libraries.

The county commissioners join County Administrator Jonathan Lewis in recognizing the team on May 22. News Leader image

Underscoring the significance of the NAFA Fleet Management Association recognition, Lewis said that the county team competes against all other fleet organizations in the Americas and Canada, many of which have far more equipment and much bigger budgets. Altogether, the competition includes about 10,000 fleet teams, Lewis said.

NAFA judges evaluate applicants based on criteria such as operational efficiency, succession planning, sustainability, technology, and asset lifecycle management, the news release adds.

On its website, NAFA explains, “The 100 Best Fleets in the Americas program recognizes peak-performing public and commercial fleet operations, as well as the top Fleet Technician and Fleet Professional of the year. This program identifies and encourages the ever-increasing levels of performance improvement and innovation within the fleet industry. The 100 Best Fleets in the Americas contest is open to any fleet in North, Central, or South America. Application into the contest is free, and is an entirely online process.”

The website adds, “The purpose of this program is to help:

  • “foster pride in the industry.
  • “build recognition within the national fleet community.
  • “increase levels of productivity and operational effectiveness.
  • “encourage more individuals to consider fleet operations as a career choice.”

Sarasota County has three maintenance facilities across the county,” with the county fleet comprising “1,305 on-highway vehicles and 418 off-highway vehicles,” the release notes.

The Fleet Services team received more than 4,500 scheduled work orders and more than 1,700 unscheduled work orders in 2023, the release points out.

In the release, Justin Mullins, the Fleet Services manager, emphasized the role of teamwork.

“It starts with the mechanics on the floor, and everything they do affects the whole operation,” said Mullins. “Everything we do is about teamwork, and it’s about everybody doing their part of the puzzle.”

The Fleet Services team harnesses technology and data systems to improve operations, “such as an organization-wide telematics program,” the release explains. These technological advances allow the fleet team “to make data-driven decisions for better organizational improvements and customer service,” the release notes.

“The Fleet Services team is a leader in customer service, holding quarterly meetings with customers to foster communication and collaboration,” the release continues. The Fleet Services team also offers customers access to its data, “to enhance transparency between the fleet and those it serves,” the release adds.

“It is a very close relationship with our customers,” Mullins pointed out in the release. “We work every day with these departments and we know all the people. We want to support them and give them what they need to be successful,” he added.

“Sarasota County is in the process of designing and developing a new Fleet Maintenance Facility to further support operations,” the release notes. That structure will include maintenance bays, storage areas for parts and other property, space for administrative functions, equipment for asset management, room for the upfitting of Emergency Services Department vehicles, and staff accommodations, the release says. (As Nissan explains, “An upfit is a set of vehicle accessories or augmentations for an existing vehicle that are customized to the worker’s needs. Upfits can include shelving, roof units, cooling units, hangars, and more. Upfitted vehicles are designed with efficiency and ease in mind, and can allow workers to bring that extra edge on the road and to the job site.”)

During their regular meeting on May 7, county Capital Projects Department Project Manager Brad Gaubatz talked with the commissioners about plans to build the new Fleet Maintenance Facility on land that the county owns in Nokomis.