Natural Gas – Conversions, Vehicles and Technology

CNG Fuels 'Green' Victory for Culver City

January 2010, Green Fleet Magazine - Feature

by Grace Lauron - Also by this author

Click here to view a pdf of this article.

Being named #1 Government Green Fleet in North America is an accomplishment for a fleet that once operated out of what Equipment Maintenance Manager Paul Condran refers to as "Quonset huts."

But with one of the largest compressed natural gas (CNG) fleets, a staff whose efforts earn consistent rankings among the top 100 best fleets in the U.S., and a fleet manager deemed by Government Fleet magazine an Environmental Leadership Award recipient and finalist for 2009 Public Sector Fleet Manager of the Year, the title is just one highlight in a series of honors awarded to the Culver City (Calif.) Equipment Maintenance & Fleet Services Division this past year for outstanding environmental efforts.

Changing 'Garage' Mindset
Culver City Equipment Maintenance & Fleet Services Division has come a long way since its days as a "garage," according to Condran, a 24-year veteran fleet manager and one of four finalists (of 31 nominees) for GF's 2009 Public Sector Fleet Manager of the Year.

Prior to joining Culver City's fleet operations, Condran began his automotive career as a technician, then later became a service manager, and also worked in the parts distributor area at a Ferrari dealership - a much different environment than fleet, he admitted.

"Going from high-end technology vehicles to fleet vehicles was a difficult transition," said Condran, recalling what a "different world" it had been.

Condran described Culver City's original fleet administration as essentially non-existent, with mechanics working out of Quonset-like huts and no real vehicle management taking place. Overcoming his initial anxiety upon taking the job, he soon took charge to change the mindset from a "garage" (somewhere to park cars) to equipment maintenance & fleet services.

"We are not a 'lube center'," Condran said.

Emphasizing quality, Condran steered fleet away from conditions in the early days when scarce attention was paid to quality of service or cost, to focus on total asset management. "It's much more than vehicle maintenance," he said. "It ranks hand in glove with customer service and safety."

Today, the City fleet operation employs sustainable workplace practices and is certified by the State of California as a Green Model Shop under the Department of Toxic Substance and Controls (DTSC). (See sidebar on "Becoming a Green Model Shop.")

The division operates as a full-service fleet organization providing equipment maintenance, repair, welding, and asset replacement services for the City of Culver City, managing the equipment acquisition and utilization process, and monitoring and analyzing accidents and incidents involving city vehicles. In addition, it is responsible for the maintenance and support of the City's transportation facility, as well as assisting in the management of the City's underground storage tank (UST) program for city-operated fueling sites. The current facility has been in service since 1999.

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