A long time ago in Indiana, there was a State Maintenance Council. It was a popular offering of the Indiana Motor Truck Association (IMTA), and fleet maintenance managers flocked to the meetings to learn new maintenance tips from vendors and to swap stories and advice with their “competitors.”
But something happened. The Indiana State Maintenance Council that was thriving in the early 1990s began to lose membership, and today it no longer exists.
“Back during deregulation time, the Maintenance Council was huge,” says Tisha Eder, IMTA executive vice president. “But then when deregulation took effect, it started dwindling. And it pretty much got down to nothing, there was no one attending and it fizzled out.”
And it remained fizzled for many years, until a new IMTA officer with a progressive view looked around and decided that maybe, just maybe, the time was right to bring back the Indiana Motor Truck Association Maintenance Council.
Last year, Fleet Maintenance Magazine was approached by Ke’Vin Roberts, then the director of safety & membership for IMTA, for some help in starting a new State Maintenance Council in Indiana. Our discussions led to Roberts penning a guest editorial for this magazine last February, entitled “Answering the Call: How to make a State Maintenance Council Happen.”
In that column, Roberts wrote: “One thing that we don’t have is an active Maintenance Council. At one time there was a Maintenance Council here at the IMTA, and our members love to tell me about the good ole’ days, but they always say, ‘As jobs changed and companies restructured the maintenance council got smaller and smaller until there was no maintenance council at all.’ That’s a shame, especially since the interest in having a maintenance council has never gone away.”
Well, Roberts took those stories about the “good ole’ days” to heart and he started thinking about whether a maintenance council would fly today.
Although he now works as assistant director of transportation and security for the Washington Township, Indiana, School District, Roberts’ vision and influence are still felt within the IMTA Safety Management Council, under whose auspices the new Maintenance Council may be reborn.
Roberts credits his interest in creating a Maintenance Council to his days working on the fleet operations side of retail giant Wal-Mart, which has two distribution centers in Indiana.
“I’ve always had an appreciation for maintenance, and how important the maintenance side of the business is,” he says. When I got to Wal-Mart, it was as much about safety and maintenance as anything. Wal-Mart is on the forefront of safety and maintenance.”
When he came on board at IMTA, Roberts became responsible for the Safety Management Council, and that Wal-Mart background started to influence his thinking. “I brought to the IMTA a kind of a progressive mindset, and a willingness to reach out, to think outside the box,” he recalls. “With IMTA’s Safety Management Council, a lot of things had been done the same for years, but when I asked around, I heard that, yea, we had had a Maintenance Council, and a lot of people had been involved with it.
“So,” he says, “it wasn’t that I was trying to reinvent the wheel; but just to look at the wheel again, and get it rolling again.”
Roberts found a brother-in-arms in Lance Riegle, a sales agent for Columbus, IN-based insurance company Marvin Johnson & Associates, Inc., and Chairman of the IMTA Safety Management Council. Riegle’s customer-focused approach to running the Safety Management Council meshed nicely with Roberts’ goals of providing more value to IMTA’s members.
“I started working with Ke’Vin a year and half ago, and we just tried to do everything we could to think of (in terms of) new ideas to ramp up the Safety Management Council,” Riegle says. “We tried to promote it more, get more attendance, and grow that part of the organization.
How to make a State Maintenance Council happen.
State and local Maintenance Councils offer something for everybody.