"Beyond that, we have fire, police and emergency services that are also large drains on our services," he goes on. "The uniqueness of the police and the fire is the apparatus itself, and the severe duty that it sees. When it comes to sanitation, it is because of the huge amount of mechanical and hydraulic work that it gets in a single day. Because it's mechanical, it's bound to break sometime; you can't keep it from wearing. Hence, you see it a lot."
Because so many of its members have such similar fleets and similar maintenance issues, RMFMA is big on training. Every meeting has an educational component, and that's what keeps members like Swearingen so committed.
"Another great thing, probably the most meaningful to me, was the quality of speakers that they bring in," he says. "In Arizona we usually, once a year, try to bring in a nationally-known speaker in our industry, and they generally come in and speak about fleet maintenance. The actual learning side of: if you're going to become a fleet manager, these are the things you need to know, these are the things you need to track, these are the ways you put it together, and put that on for the membership. It's one of the main reasons I believe in this now, because of the things that it's taught me. It's a cheap investment, just your membership dues. These dues have been saved by the City of Casa Grande so many times over by people helping us that I can't even begin to list the ways..."
There is a new return on the city's investment that Swearingen can list, however. RMFMA made headlines recently when it announced that it would offer the nationally-recognized Certified Automotive Fleet Manager (CAFM) and Certified Automotive Fleet Supervisor (CAFS) programs to its members.
The new offering represents a significant ednrosement of the two programs administered by the NAFA Fleet Management Association. Through NAFA, over 225 fleet professionals have been certified, and with the RMFMA's endorsement many more will surely follow.
According to Swearingen, RMFMA had been interested in providing its members with a professional certification program for some time, but had a difficult time finding the right fit.
"We as an association came to the conclusion that we wanted to take ownership in a program, to make it our RMFMA program. We soon discovered that that was going to be a very expensive venture to go into," Swearingen says.
Swearingen relates that several organizations offered certification programs that came close to meeting RMFMA's reprequisites, but for one key point: "One of the criteria we were looking at was that we wanted it to be accredited as well, and that was a key component when we were looking at this," he says.
"We had put an RFP together, as a board, of what we wanted to see in ownership of a program," he says, "and we saw very quickly the expense behind that venture. Then it was offered to us in alliances. One of the key pieces for the CAFM/CAFS, which was developed by NAFA, was their criteria, their accreditation, and their offerings on an alliance that allowed us to become a member of the alliance, and take ownership of the program.
That ownership element is important to RMFMA, Swearingen says, because it lets the Association play an active role in making the certification programs relevant and valuable to its members.
"As a partner, we actually have a say in their development, their testing, and so forth," he explains. "We're only one on that table of probably ten players that are voting and discussing this; but we are at the table. It does put some ownership into our hands as far as the way we feel that this is. It was very close, almost 100% coverage of our RFP, everything we requested, with the exception of ownership. But, in what they offered us--partnership instead of ownership--we felt it was the right thing to do, and we now have an RMFMA CAFM/CAFS program that we offer."
Unfortunately, the program was announced at a time when many RMFMA member organizations are finding it difficult to fund management training courses, and so the CAFM/CAFS program has had a slow start in its first few months. But that doesn't mean it's a non-starter.
"We have done a survey, and there are more than 30 people interested in the program," Swearingen says. "These are hard times now, so most of these trainings in the past would have been put onto your own municipality's or state's budgets; right now, it is very tight and that opportunity probably will not exist, so most of this will have to come out of individual's pockets.
Recognizing the path to professional accomplishment
Organization appoints/elects 31 fleet professionals to make up this year's group.
NAFA's highly successful CAFM Boot Camp, which made its debut at last year's Institute & Expo in Salt Lake City, will be brought back for the 2009 I&E in New Orleans April 25-28.