Claude, let’s talk about the CALSTART relationship and the workshops at the 2013 I&E and how that came together.
Those who attended the 2013 I&E had the opportunity to attend a new track of classes focusing on advanced technology or alternative fuel vehicles. The classes offered assistance on how to choose and how to pick the right vehicle for your specific fleet application and how to justify the cost for them — not only from a business case, but also how to get funding for these types of vehicles. Typically, alternative fuel vehicles are more expensive to purchase on the front end, so you need to have a good understanding on how to write a business case for the vehicles and how to cost justify them.
CALSTART’s presence at the I&E is part of NAFA’s Strategic Plan. NAFA’s position has always been to educate our Members and provide them with opportunities to learn about new products and offerings that are available to them in the commercial space. I wanted CALSTART to be there to help Members make their own decisions based on having all of the right information at hand.
CALSTART is a non-profit organization like NAFA. The organization provides a wealth of knowledge to all of the commercial offerings that are out there in the alternative fuel spectrum. They provide fleet professionals with an opportunity to learn about real-world experiences. Most importantly, they help people come to their own conclusions and make their own decisions based on what would work best for them and their particular business application or in the region or area of the country that they happen to operate in.
The relationship between NAFA and CALSTART has gotten off to a great start and I look forward to the relationship continuing to grow and benefit both organizations.
What did you think of this year’s educational sessions at the I&E overall?
I spent a lot of time walking the floor and talking to attendees and received plenty of positive feedback. In my experience, people in our organization are pretty honest. If they’re not happy about something they aren’t shy about letting you know or offering suggestions or recommendations for changes. I would say that the majority of the comments I got were all positive about the educational sessions. People felt it was a good curriculum and a nice balance of topics offered.
One of the negatives that is sometimes heard is that there are too many good sessions going on at the same time. “I really wanted to go to this one but it competed with another one that I wanted to go to at the same time.” How can you fix that when our goal is to provide as much quality education as possible?
I really feel as though the whole strategy behind what I want to accomplish during my tenure is going to take some time because there are rather big things we want to accomplish. For example, yesterday I turned over some documents to Kate Vigneau, CAFM, who is a consultant that is working on incorporating Six Sigma training into the CAFM program. One of our I&E speakers made a reference to Six Sigma, which was very pleasing to me, but I think that as we move forward it is going to take a little time to develop the curriculum and get it incorporated. I look at it as a building block; It’s one of those things that will not provide an immediate change, but the seeds are going to be planted and the foundation will be laid so that before I turn the reins over to the next NAFA president we will start to see some of these plants begin to grow and maybe even bear some fruit.
What do you see as the important issues for fleet managers right now and how did the I&E approach those issues?
I think many fleet managers are struggling with a myriad of issues from advanced technology to alternative fuels to safety concerns such as distracted driving. Everyone is asking how do you make a business case for these things? The I&E keynote speakers all played significant roles in approaching these issues.
We received hundreds and hundreds of questions from the Membership for our Fireside Chat with the OEMs. The questions typically boiled down to people struggling with the pace of changes taking place. We’re faced with changing model lines and new product launch dates; changing vehicle technologies; new safety technologies – everything is just changing so quickly. Just take a look at new technologies for safety; there are devices that block phones from making calls or texting while driving, reverse sensing cameras, blind spot indicators, and radar sensing for cruise control. And those are only a few of the recent advancements.
NAFA Members see all of these technological advancements and changes coming at them so quickly that they don’t have the ability to take them all in. They need help with evaluating the changes and that’s where NAFA comes in. I think that part of our role is to help with these changes. So what I do is try to look out to the people I feel like are experts in the industry to help with those things and then we read as much as we can and process it and we try to synthesize it and only regurgitate the important facts.
How does NAFA do that?
In recent interviews I did for FLEETSolutions magazine and for Fleet Management Weekly, I mentioned strategic plans for increasing NAFA’s level of interaction with organizations like CALSTART, the Department of Energy, the EPA, and Clean Cities organizations. We had representatives from the Department of Energy and Clean Cities at the I&E. We’ve already started building those relationships. One of my objectives, and hopefully we will be able to accomplish it before I hand the reins over to the next NAFA president, is to get NAFA’s name association elevated in Washington – to get us to the point in which we are helping to drive legislation as opposed to reacting or responding to it.
It all comes back to what I spoke about in my opening statement at the I&E. What does NAFA do for our members? What is our role? I believe one of our key roles is to try to synthesize all of the information that is out there and try to help point people in the direction of good credible information sources. We need to help them learn how to find the data that they need to make good decisions. In my opening statement, I said one of the reasons I feel people belong to NAFA is because they look to us to deal with the speed of change that our industry travels.
We all know that technology changes very, very rapidly. We have more and more work coming at us all of the time and most of us simply don’t have the extra time in the day to read and digest the information. I believe one of our roles at NAFA is to help with that. The committee chairs and the leaders at NAFA should digest the information and the changes, and provide direction for NAFA Members to know where to go for the right sources of information. I want NAFA to be recognized as an industry leader for the right sources of information.
Ironically, the other two I&E keynote speakers actually echoed that exact same sentiment as well. Twitchy talked about the rate of change in our society and how it impacts our industry, and Derek Daly did the exact same thing. He spent a lot of time talking about how the truly successful corporations deal with change. Daly said it all comes down to just making an effort to refine the processes by which you make decisions, seeking that continuous improvement, and searching for the mechanisms that can help you channel information and make great decisions.
It was very, very pleasing to me to listen to attendees speak about the issues they care about. These were the same issues that I thought would be critical to NAFA members; and then to have those ideas reinforced by the other two speakers at our conference was very satisfying to know.
Claude Masters, CAFM, currently serves as President of NAFA Fleet Management Association. He has been in the fleet industry for over 35 years and is currently the Manager of Vehicle Acquisition and Fuel for Florida Power & Light. Claude has served on numerous NAFA committees – both on the Chapter and National level — since joining the Association in 1996. Over the course of his career, Claude has developed design specifications for a variety of vehicles including biodiesel technology, hybrids, and plug-in hybrid electric technologies. In his current position, Claude is responsible for the Fleet Engineering activities at FPL which entails the cradle to grave functions from specification development to disposal. Additionally, Claude manages the fuel functions which include alternative fuel(s) as well as conventional fuel usage. Prior to joining FPL, Claude worked for Houston Lighting and Power, currently known as CenterPoint Energy, for 29 years. Claude earned his Certified Automotive Fleet Manager (CAFM) designation in 1997, and has been a member of the Ford Motor Company Fleet Advisory Board since 2006.