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2019 APWA PWX Information

A Discussion of APWA's Fleet Management Certification Program

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by Ranger Kidwell-Ross
posted September, 2019

Kevin-L-Schlangen200w Kevin Schlangen, due to his many years of experience as Fleet Manager for Dakota County, Minnesota's third largest county, is a member of the APWA's Fleet Management Committee. The committee has recently put together a certification program for fleet management professionals.

In this article, and the accompanying 52-minute, in-depth podcast linked below, Schlangen discusses the certification program and some of its many advantages.

"This certification program is designed for anyone who would like to become a professional in the fleet management area," said Schlangen. "The program is designed to help people learn about what professional fleet management should look like in the municipal sector."

The program is broken down into eight major sections. These are:

  • introduction to public fleet management
  • roles, missions and visions
  • marketing and communications
  • human resource management
  • information technology
  • finance and purchasing
  • operations
  • facilities and safety management

"Many times," said Schlangen, " municipalities will key in on management of road systems, bridges and so forth. However, they neglect the fact there's a lot of money involved in the operation of all of the equipment. Especially for readers who are involved with sweeping operations, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to recognize that some of the most expensive pieces of equipment you have are your sweepers.

"With the possible exception of catch basin cleaners, there are no other items with a larger operating expense than sweepers. The good news is there are many things you can do in order to keep your costs more within check and to make sure you have this type of asset available to you when you need it. That's what this certificate program is all about. The idea is to get people thinking about what type of program you should have in place and how you should manage it."

The certificate program teaches people about all of the different ways a fleet management program can be put together and what that should look like in a professional operation. It perhaps goes without saying that the more professional a fleet management program is, the more cost-effective, safe, and so forth your fleet will be in the long run.

When asked to provide an overview of some of the many things a fleet manager should consider, Schlangen said the first step is to recognize that you have customers: these are all of the people who use your equipment. If you don't know how to maintain all of the equipment in your fleet, along with all of the expectations your users/customers have about the ones they operate, you simply can't provide good service.

Dakota Elgin Although a fleet manager may believe they have a handle on the above, the APWA's certificate program is designed to bring up a variety of questions that fleet managers otherwise would probably not know about including in the mix. For example, it is vitally important to develop a human resource strategy so you can attract the good technicians you need to keep your fleet in good repair. You also need to keep their training levels up so they remain professional and choose to stay with your organization. This is made more difficult because most government agencies don't pay as well as does the private sector.

The APWA certificate program also discusses how to handle all aspects of the increasingly mixed fleets that are part of public works. These increasingly include hybrid and electric vehicles. Other areas of learning via the certificate program are ways to finance your capital programs, as well as justify your needed purchases and keeping them maintained.

"With sweepers," said Schlangen, "there are many moving and wear parts which, if they are not maintained accurately, can raise your operational cost per hour dramatically. If you don't maintain a sweeper well, it can quickly turn a good machine into a problem one. If you don't provide proper sweeper maintenance it's easy to let a quarter-million dollar machine become a piece of junk in just a couple of years."

The APWA's fleet management certificate program was developed specifically by request from many local APWA chapters. Eventually will be rolled out at the different individual, regional APWA conferences, offered as part of the attendance to the conference. That's one way to receive the training at no additional cost other than attending. Although there will be a discount for APWA members, the certificate program will be generally available through the APWA network to both contractors and municipal public works officials.

"We have worked on this program for a number of years and there are many fleet professionals who have contributed information that is included," said Schlangen. "Once someone has gone through the training they are going to reduce their operational costs as well as be more professional in dealing with the assets they have paid so much for – which will now all last longer. There are few things that can provide more value to an organization than good training. We are excited about having it now available to APWA members and others who will benefit by the information the program provides."

Dakota Maintenance Team


We invite you to listen to an in-depth podcast audio interview on this topic between's Editor, Ranger Kidwell-Ross, and Kevin Schlangen.

In the podcast, which is about 52-minutes in length, Kevin Schlangen discusses each of the eight sections of the APWA's Fleet Management Certification Program, along with an overview of the expectations and information for each of those sections. (Audio will open in a new browser window.)

You may reach Kevin Schlangen via email sent to Kevin.Schlangen@CO.DAKOTA.MN.US. You can contact APWA for more information by calling 800-848-2792. Or, visit the APWA website at

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