FridayFleet’s Women in Fleet Series; July 4th Safe Driving Tips

This week, we’re proud to present the next profile in our series of women in fleet. It’s such a pleasure to speak with Kim, who is quick to laugh and always thoughtful. Big thanks to her for giving us a glimpse into her work and personal life.

FridayFleet’s Women in Fleet Series

Meet…Kim LaRue
Fleet Operations, Goodman Networks

donlen-goodman-networks-kim-larue

Kim LaRue is a fleet veteran, managing the vehicle needs for Mary Kay’s independent sales force for almost ten years before joining Goodman Networks. Kim now manages a fleet of mainly light-duty trucks for Goodman, a telecommunications services company headquartered in Plano, Texas. Goodman has field operations across the country. Born in Ohio and raised in Indianapolis, Kim now calls Texas home.

FridayFleet: How did you get into fleet management?

Kim LaRue: I was actually in the sales operations department at Mary Kay for many years before they made some internal changes and fleet was switched to that group in 2001.

FF: What is the fleet like at Goodman?

KL: We have 313 light-duty trucks and vans and several executive vehicles. Basically I went from pink Cadillacs to work trucks! There are major differences between sedans and trucks and the needs of those fleets.

FF: What’s the difference running the Goodman fleet?

KL: The major difference at Goodman is the exposure that I have to all the services that go into managing a leased truck fleet…fuel cards, maintenance, accident management, telematics…everything.

FF: Have you implemented any changes over the past couple years since joining Goodman?

KL: Goodman is growing at a rapid rate and recognized the need for a managed fleet program. After completing a business case, we decided that a more structured program would allow us to better support the field operations and manage costs. We utilize just about every service available where we can and really assess how much and where we’re spending. Telematics is something that our management team is most excited about utilizing – where we’ll be able to see where vehicles are in order to route properly, use our time most efficiently, and determine how much time we are spending at work sites.

FF: What are some of the challenges you face?

KL: Keeping up with vehicles as people come and go is sometimes difficult because the changes are happening out in the field. I’m a one-person fleet department, so I rely on information from the field and my Donlen team to keep track of inventory and to ensure everyone follows the process we have in place.

FF: And on the flip side, what is the most rewarding part of your job?

KL: Getting the right vehicle type for the job that needs to be done. If I’ve done that and they can do their job easier, then it makes it more rewarding for me. Plus if I accomplish that, it’s a cost benefit for Goodman…it makes me feel good about what I do. Taking care of my drivers so they can do their jobs efficiently and effectively while balancing costs and the needs/direction of senior management is always a rewarding challenge.

FF: From an industry perspective, what has changed from when you started in fleet?

KL: Fleet managers need to pay attention to different things now: when should you remarket? How long should you keep a vehicle? What’s the total lifecycle cost? The economy is very different now. Cost of fuel has changed; depreciation used to be the most significant portion of the total operating cost of the vehicle, but not anymore. Depending on the type of fleet you’re running, fuel is equal to – if not greater than – depreciation right now. You need to pay close attention to what’s happening.

Also, the social responsibility of fleet has changed over the years. You need to look at alternative fuels…”greening” your fleet. Even if you’re not doing it right now, you need to understand where you are so you’re ready when the time is right to move on these. Goodman has a strong strategy in place, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but our customers are paying attention to it and expect it from us as well.

FF: What advice would you give someone entering this field for the first time?

KL: Know your driver. Know their needs. Also know what management wants. Understanding it from both perspectives and meeting everyone’s needs is perhaps the most difficult part of the job. Cover all the bases. Listen and gather as much information as you can. Understand the business, especially if you’re new to the company. Ask questions! The one thing about this industry is that it’s so good from a networking and helping standpoint. I can contact anyone who’s a fleet manager – whether I know them really well or not – and they are always willing to help. I belong to both AFLA and NAFA…they’re good places for networking.

FF: What do you do in your spare time?

KL: Mostly, I spend time with my family. We have a lot of gatherings at my house… at least once a month we’re cooking and entertaining family and close friends. I like to travel and do genealogy research – which I don’t have enough time to do these days.

FF: What five people (living or dead) would you invite to your next dinner party?

KL: Hmmmm, let’s see. Definitely my maternal grandfather. He was a big influence on my life and he always gave me insight to the world. I can remember such great conversations from a young age and I’d like to do that again. Mary Kay Ash would be another. I always admired her as a true servant leader. My daughter is a wonderful conversationalist and listener and I love to hear her insight as well as watch her learn from others. Abraham Lincoln’s personal and professional life intrigues me and I would love to have a chance to converse with him. The fifth person would have to be my paternal grandmother. She is 94 and continues to keep up with current affairs and is an avid sports fan. Everyone loves talking to her and she would be the spark that would ignite conversation at any dinner table – plus she’s my role model and I admire her very much.

FF: If you could only listen to one band (or singer) for the rest of your life, who would that be?

KL: Well, my favorite band has always been Aerosmith, but not sure I can listen to them solely for the rest of my life, so I’ll say Chris Tomlin.

FF: And finally, what’s in your refrigerator at the moment?

KL: Oh, lots of food. My husband is the cook so we have a very full refrigerator with all the basics. We could survive just about any catastrophe for quite a while with the ingredients that are in our pantry and refrigerator right now! If it were up to me there wouldn’t be too much. I’m good with mac and cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches.

FF: Good to know. Thanks, Kim!

Find out more about Goodman Networks by visiting their website at
http://www.goodmannetworks.com/


Driver’s Corner

As more people hit the road to celebrate July 4th with family and friends, it’s more important than ever to be careful when out on the road. These safe driving tips (adapted from autonation.com) will help you enjoy the celebration:

  • Don’t drive after you’ve been drinking. Be sure to have a designated driver before indulging yourself.
  • Make sure you’re well rested. Parties sometimes go later than we’re used to and getting enough sleep beforehand helps you avoid being drowsy as you drive home.
  • Watch for erratic driving behavior. Do you see a vehicle swerving or constantly switching lanes? This driver could be alcohol-impaired. Don’t try to pass and maintain a safe distance.
  • Wear your seat belt, and make sure your passengers do the same. Seat belts save lives. Enough said!
  • Be flexible when planning your day. Allowing enough time to get to and from your destination, “plan B” in case your designated driver doesn’t work out, and simply having patience while driving will keep everyone safe.

And Finally…

And finally, a friendly “public service” message as we head into this holiday week. Grilling, camping, and fireworks are all synonymous with Fourth of July celebrations. But as extreme heat and drought hit many parts of the country, and we watch brave men and women battle fires that rage out of control in Colorado, it’s important to be aware of the potential for wildfires. View this list of grilling, campfire, and fireworks safety tips from the Oklahoma Forestry Services to help keep you – and our precious environment – safe over this holiday weekend.

Have a nice weekend. Safe travels.

Originally appeared in FridayFleet on June 29, 2012


About Donlen
A wholly owned subsidiary of The Hertz Corporation (NYSE:HTZ), Donlen (www.donlen.com), with headquarters in Northbrook, IL, is the fleet industry’s most comprehensive and integrated provider of financing and asset management solutions. Since 1965, Donlen has offered its clients highly personalized and responsive customer service, and their workplace excellence has been recognized as one of Crain’s Chicago Business “List of 20 Best Places to Work in Chicago” each year from 2009-2011, a Leader on “The Global Outsourcing 100®” list by the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP) for six of the last seven years, and a National Association for Business Resources “101 Best and Brightest Places to Work For in Chicago” each year from 2007-2012. Donlen’s innovation has been awarded with the Computerworld “2012 Honors Laureate for Economic Opportunity,” named to “2012 InformationWeek 500” for innovative technology; the Stevie® “2012 Gold Award for Business Intelligence Solution,” the Silver Award for “2012 Front Line Customer Service Team of the Year,” and the “2011 Corporate Environmental Responsibility Program of the Year.”