Like many fleet managers, Steve Fisher has more than vehicle acquisition, maintenance and remarketing on his mind when he walks into the office each morning. In fact, after 25 years at Communications International Inc., a Vero Beach, Fla.-based public safety communications systems provider, Fisher’s primary duties remain those of a corporate sales engineer.
So why take on the administration of CII’s fleet of cars, trucks and vans when his predecessor retired four years ago?
“The answer is, I’m a car guy,” Fisher says. “At home, I work on hot rods. I ride Harley-Davidsons. I have a passion for it.”
That passion has paid off for CII. The company’s fleet, now 88 vehicles strong, is significantly leaner and greener than it was four years ago. The secret to Fisher’s success is a scientific approach befitting his engineering background, plus buy-in from management and a new partner on the leasing side.
Rightsizing to Save Money
CII specializes in building public-sector communications systems, including 911 centers and phone systems, in-vehicle hardware and custom software. The company’s fleet is thus tasked with supporting sales, service, engineering and integration operations. It’s not a “one-box-fits-all” operation, as Fisher describes it, but “one-box-per-job.”
“I look at it from an engineering perspective,” he says. “Get the vehicle that fits the job the tech is doing. For a larger territory, that might mean a larger vehicle.”
Larger, that is, than a Chevrolet Astro van, which had come to dominate the service side of the fleet by the time Fisher took over. The company operates service facilities in several municipalities where clients can take police cars, fire trucks and ambulances fitted with CII radios. There, the Astro vans were cycled out in favor of smaller vehicles such as Chevrolet HHR panel vans and Ford Transit Connects. Those moves reduced Fisher’s fuel spend by more than half for some facilities.
For municipalities where CII techs have to cover greater distances and carry more equipment, Fisher went in the opposite direction, to full-size Chevy and Ford vans. “It’s a larger vehicle, but more efficient because they take fewer trips,” he says.
Fisher orders his work trucks and vans the same way he orders his sales reps’ sedans: factory paint job, no outsize logos or phone numbers and no vinyl-wrap advertisements. The vans have only a simple vinyl decal with the company’s initials. “We’re not a Yellow-Pages company,” Fisher says. “When a government agency needs communications, they send out an RFP.”