“One of the ideas that Ke’Vin had brought to the table was looking at maintenance more than we were,” Riegle continues. “One thing that the Safety Management Council had been focused on was dealing with the safety directors of these companies, when we were missing out on other people who might have gotten involved because we weren’t addressing the maintenance element of safety. It’s a big part of the safety of our vehicles out on the road, and Ke’Vin thought it would be a great idea to make that a part of the Safety Management Council, or to perhaps form a new separate Maintenance Council, which is where Fleet Maintenance Magazine came in.”
Roberts’ guest editorial in the February issue of Fleet Maintenance seems to have generated a bit of a stir in Indiana, something that the IMTA wasn’t expecting.
“When we ran that article, it was surprising,” Roberts says. “We started to hear from members of our Association that had not been to our Safety Management Council meetings, that did not participate. But when that article came out, lo and behold, people called in who we had never heard from at all!”
Fast forward to the April 8th meeting of the IMTA Safety Management Council, held at the Marriott Hotel North, in Indianapolis. That night, attendees experienced a new type of meeting, featuring new ideas that Riegle and Roberts had been talking about for months.
“In January, Ke’Vin and I had looked at the April meeting, and we looked at maintenance, which we had never really touched on; just getting back to the nuts and bolts of what safety really is,” Riegle recalls. “We’re here to benefit our members, so we tried to look at safety from the point of view of the company, not just the safety director. There’s a lot more involved in safety than just what the safety manager does; it has run all the way from top to bottom.
“So, we thought it would be a great opportunity to have a meeting based on maintenance, that could open the door to bring in some new blood, some people new to the group, who maybe had never attended a meeting, to open their eyes to what we do at the safety council,” he says.
With Riegle hosting, the evening’s events started out with a dinner and social hour, followed by the Safety Management Council’s regular business meeting, then a maintenance presentation.
The guest speakers represented Caterpillar and Wal-Mart, and their topic, not surprisingly, was spec’ing and maintaining for fuel economy. The presentation led to a very engaging conversation among the attendees, something that Riegle credits to a new meeting format that he and Roberts also pioneered.
“When Ke’Vin and I started working together on this, the previous format we had was: we do the business portion of the meeting, we have a presenter who gives a 30-minute presentation, then we have a ‘Q & A’ afterwards,” he explains. “What we tried was to have a round table, where you’re bouncing ideas and questions back and forth, openly, throughout the whole 30- to 45-minute presentation. You get more people involved, where they don’t feel like, ‘Oh, I had a question at the five minute mark and now it’s 25 minutes and I forgot what it was, or it’s not relevant now.’
“We tried to open it up to where people could ask questions anytime and not feel like they’re interrupting a presentation,” he says. “With the round table discussions you get more people involved, and as soon as people start feeling comfortable with the topic, they start forming those ideas, and, yea, we see that kind of response, which is really good. That means they’re getting something out of it.”
“I’ve never seen so much interaction and that much conversation, honestly,” says Eder. “I thought that was very exciting. It’s always good when you can get people talking and sharing information. That’s one of the things I’m proudest of in this industry: you get a group of competitors together, and they’re not afraid to share information to help one another out.”
Eder’s good impressions are important, because she’s the one who goes back to the IMTA board to report on the meeting. From all accounts, her report is expected to be very positive.
“We’re very excited about that meeting, and how many people attended,” she says.
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