-  Credit: Pixaby

Credit: Pixaby

The Fleet Visionary Awards recognize several honorees during the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA) annual conference at the 2021 AFLA NextGen Conference, held Oct. 3 - 6, in San Antonio, Texas. The award will be presented on Monday, Oct. 4, at La Cantera Resort & Spa, the site of this year’s conference. This year’s theme is “Emerging Stronger,” and the individuals below helped their organizations do just that in an industry that hasn’t experienced a shutdown like COVID since World War II.

The honor recognizes those who have brought a new perspective, cost-effective strategies, or positive business disruptions to running or working with commercial fleets; these are the doers that operate more efficiently, reduce costs and overhead, increase safety, and help secure their teams’ and partners’ futures with new methods, insights, and technologies.

The award, exclusively sponsored by Merchants Fleet, recognizes and celebrates new voices in fleet management. A webinar on the success stories and best practices of several 2021 Fleet Visionary honorees, including the Visionary of the Year, will be hosted at the 2021 AFLA Conference on Oct. 3, 2021.

Click to vote for the winner of the 2021 Fleet Visionary Award


Karyna Zarate, Fleet Manager, Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc.

Karyna Zarate  -

Karyna Zarate

As a fleet manager for Jacobs, Karyna Zarate continually commits to influencing positive change. Two recent initiatives highlight this drive: First, when the Jacobs fleet needed to contain costs via a 10 percent reduction in trucks ordered from dealer stock, Zarate helped design a systematic solution to achieve this goal. Jacobs historically buys trucks at the project or branch level on an ad hoc basis. Zarate identified an opportunity to set specific parameters for vehicle replacement, and in applying the new criteria identified hundreds of trucks as prime replacement candidates. From there, Zarate categorized the vehicles based on maintenance spending over $2,500, then used the revised list to place factory orders for remaining vehicles (reducing out-of-stock purchases was addressed through a surplus program). Zarate identified five of the largest Jacobs locations and, following a standardized order template, factory-ordered new trucks for each.     

Next, Jacobs wants to electrify 20 percent of its fleet by 2030, focusing primarily on light duty trucks. Again, Zarate is leading the way. An EV assessment was conducted to help determine the range (miles driven), geography (public charging stations), and the cost associated with the transition as 75 percent of the Jacobs fleet is light duty pick-up trucks. To help support sustainability efforts, Zarate tapped into data from Jacobs’ telematics devices to determine the percentage of idle time with the goal of getting to zero. Jacobs also added an “inverter” to its vehicle selector to provide power in the vehicle and reduce idle time.

For every truck Jacobs factory ordered rather than buying from dealer stock, it saved an average of $5,000. Ultimately, Zarate was able to reduce out-of-stock purchases by 30 percent. Upon resumption of normal mileage in a post-COVID world, those results project to an eventual yearly savings of over $600,000.


Barbara Zuroick, US Fleet Operations & Safety Manager, AstraZeneca

Barbara Zuroick  -

Barbara Zuroick

Barbara Zuroick is a leader in fleet sustainability. She spearheaded AstraZeneca’s early entrance into the EV space with their wide scale adoption of hybrid vehicles, and in 2017, Zuroick launched an aggressive initiative to turn its entire 4,800-unit fleet into hybrids. The target was to reduce annual carbon output by 10,000 tons of carbon and increase the overall fleet mpg to 30 once the transition was completed. At the beginning of 2020, however, AstraZeneca made an announcement that they’re planning to take this initiative to another level--by reducing its entire fleet’s carbon footprint to zero by 2025. Dubbed Ambition Carbon Zero, Zuroick is now tasked with transforming AstraZeneca’s entire U.S. fleet to electric vehicles. 

To begin, she reviewed numerous TCO scenarios and selected models that would be the best fit for her drivers from sustainability, productivity, and cost standpoints. In 2017, AstraZeneca’s carbon output was 44,051 tons; with 78 percent of the fleet now transitioned to hybrid vehicles, the current carbon output is down to 34,149 tons (a 22.5 percent reduction). Today, AstraZeneca’s fleet fuel economy has reached 29.5 mpg, down from 27.1 mpg in 2017, a 9.2% decrease during this initiative.   

Zuroick is now following this same strategy to evaluate electric vehicles; she analyzed the fleet to identify which vehicles should be the first to transition to EV models while considering current infrastructure and available charging stations and surveyed the field to find drivers who were eager and willing to move to electric vehicles to help propel this initiative within the company. This fall, AstraZeneca will be deploying EVs to those drivers as well as providing home chargers and installation as means to support the unique fueling needs of EVs. Due to Barbara’s efforts, AstraZeneca’s U.S. fleet nabbed the 9th spot in Automotive Fleet Magazine’s top 50 green fleet listing. 


Patrick Mitchell, senior fleet manager, Enel North America

Patrick Mitchell  -

Patrick Mitchell

Patrick Mitchell has played a significant role in executing Enel North America’s sustainability goals by fostering a more sustainable fleet by helping to transition the fleet to hybrids. Enel now provides hybrid and electric vehicles in all cases unless a vehicle isn’t available. Mitchell is now examining adding electric trucks for operations teams and the expansion of EVs in Enel’s employee fleet. He is also working with subsidiary Enel X to install smart charging infrastructure at Enel offices, plants, and employee homes, and he has co-written grant applications to support EV charger implementations. Finally, is working on a company project regarding key performance indicators to plan how they can expand hybrid and EV implementations to help fulfill Enel sustainability goals.

Integrating hybrids has yielded reductions in emissions and gains in fuel economy. Enel has been tracking data regarding hybrid vs. non-hybrid fuel and emissions performance for passenger cars and SUVs in their fleet over approximately the last three and a half years since implementing hybrids, and the data shows that the hybrids realized a 34 percent increase in fuel economy and a 23.5 percent decrease in CO2 emissions per mile (based on gallons consumed) when compared to non-hybrids. Implementing hybrids has also prevented 17.56 tons of CO2 emissions being released into the atmosphere. Mitchell’s work and Enel’s sustainability successes provided the building blocks for incremental growth and have poised Enel for tremendous expansion just as advancements in hybrid vehicles, PHEVs, and EVs hit the market.

Hybrid vehicles offered sustainable, safe, reliable, and economic transportation for all regions and weather conditions. For EVs, common stereotypes and hesitations broke down once employees drove an EV, and employees that drive hybrids and EVs have a tremendous sense of pride in their vehicles, and Mitchell has provided the key insight and voltage to keep the wheels turning in Enel’s green initiatives.


Sarah Hansen, Director of Fleet Operations, Wood

Fleet safety is not just a matter of crunching numbers; it requires leadership that sees the value in a proactive approach and understands that safety touches all aspects of a business. Sarah Hansen is a visionary because she recognizes the value of a comprehensive approach to safety management and acts on it, driving Wood toward a culture of driver safety.

Leading the Resilient Environments Group within Wood, Hansen is committed to providing company fleet drivers with a rigorous safety net. She and her team focus on equipping drivers and managers with a multi-pronged approach to improving safety behind the wheel. The tools for this included ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) to support the driver in controlling the vehicle; MVR (Motor Vehicle Records) Review; Nauto, for in-cab real-time feedback of driving behavior, traffic elements, and contextual data; vehicle cycling of 5 years or 150,000 miles; and behavior coaching by managers to provide drivers with the tools for success. She also supported innovations in other areas, initiating the development of a budgeting tool that impacted multiple Wood transportation departments and streamlining the order and upfitting process.

With her Lean Six Sigma training, Hansen analyzed each aspect of driver risk and her holistic approach resulted in acceptance of a true safety culture and led to financial rewards for Wood. The new budgeting tool raised awareness within finance regarding the funding and decision-making processes that determine local fleet budgets and also provided insight into fleet procedures, allowing her to create allocations by organization and vehicle type. In the last 12 months, Wood’s fleet has consistently kept their Donlen Green Card score below average while the streamlined order and upfitting process resulted in flexibility and consistency across the fleet, allowing easier reporting, better safety controls, and acquisition of road-ready vehicles in a timely manner.

Over the past four and a half years, Hansen has transformed Wood’s fleet based on applying principles of Lean Six Sigma. To that end, Wood has realized significant cost savings of over $1 million from fleet, increased fleet equity, and decreased the median age of its fleet vehicles by eight model years. The company is positioned to return more than $1,000,000 in remarketing gains, offsetting fleet costs, increasing competitiveness, and justifying the new cycling schedule.


Kate Tooley, Director of Fleet Strategy & Operations, Terminix

Kate Tooley  -

Kate Tooley

Kate Tooley came to Terminix two years ago after spending five years managing transportation at ABB. Prior to her joining the company, Terminix had been managing its maintenance in-house and was beginning to experience challenges related to the aging of its assets. In this short time, Tooley has led the charge on rethinking how Terminix cycles its vehicles and ensures its fleet is as efficient as possible. Her most recent success was in developing a multi-year strategy to move the fleet to a more optimal cycle; the company had an aging, high-mileage fleet, but adopting new cycling terms and replacing according to new criteria immediately would create a heavy demand, with nearly half the fleet requiring cycling within the first year. Over a two-month period of presentations, Tooley worked to gain executive level buy-in for a new strategy that took a phased cycling approach over five years. It was projected that the proposed cycling strategy would generate $3 million in savings for the company due to fuel, downtime, and maintenance savings from having newer vehicles. The plan was approved in September 2020, began in October, and is now on track to meet its projected savings goals, with $950,000 savings already generated to date.

Thanks to Tooley’s ongoing efforts, the Terminix fleet has made significant strides in cost savings and efficiency, and the company is closer to its goal of achieving a world-class fleet with a strong cycling strategy. Over the course of her tenure she has cycled over 1,300 vehicles with another 1,877 on order this year. She has already made a great impact on Terminix by setting a long-term vision and guiding principles for the fleet, and she is on track for her impact to continue to grow.


Heath Martin, chief financial officer, Stake Center Locating, Inc.

Heath Martin  -

Heath Martin

Heath Martin exemplifies a fleet manager who successfully wears multiple hats and drives fleet efficiency forward. As a company in hyper growth mode, he pulls levers to improve the company’s efficiencies through cycling and utilization. His fleet was faced with the challenge of significant rental costs to backfill vehicles when breakdowns and unexpected downtime occurred during COVID. He is in the process of implementing a new cycling policy focused on phasing out older, high-mileage vehicles and driving down (and eventually eliminating) unexpected rental costs, which were skewing their maintenance spend. He is taking a layered replacement approach that focuses on both months in service and mileage, where high mileage vehicles are targeted to be cycled out sooner. This strategy distinguishes him as a proactive professional with an eye to the future and a creative approach that identifies how to prevent unnecessary downtime and expenses before they occur. He is also using all options to improve efficiencies, including GuaranteeBUY, a guaranteed offer remarketing program, to quickly dispose of unneeded vehicles, and moving underutilized vehicles to locations where they receive more use.

This project is still in its initial stages. According to an initial replacement analysis (and depending on the final strategy chosen), Stake Center is projected to save an estimated $367,000–$485,000 in maintenance costs and $102,000–133,000 in fuel spend. Stake Center will also gain an additional 3.5 miles to the gallon in fuel efficiency.


Matthew Aronberg, Director, Fleet Office of Realtime Tracking, New York City Fleet, City of New York

Matthew Aronberg  -

Matthew Aronberg

Matthew Aronberg is the director of the Fleet Office of Realtime Tracking, which oversees the New York City fleet citywide telematics program and encompasses over 12,500 city vehicles and 10,000 contracted school buses. Using the in-house system, Aronberg has created reports for driver and vehicle safety and usage that are provided to 55 city agencies daily and developed campaigns for reducing speeding and increasing seat belt usage. New York City is unique as it supports snow removal with collection trucks and these vehicles use a specialized tracking system so the public can see which streets have been plowed. Aronberg is in the process of taking this data and placing it into the citywide telematics system, merging it with other DSNY data as well as citywide data so that there can be one universal reporting system.  This effort will save the city a significant amount of money as it will avoid installing two pieces of telematics hardware in the same vehicle as well as eliminating a secondary data cost. 

Moreover, through his efforts the city is better able to successfully work towards sustainability goals and clean air initiatives by implementing specialized reports for idling and by working with MIT, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, and the Chief Technology Office to create a program that uses the city’s system to assist on air quality monitoring. Aronberg has also been able to work with the Office of Emergency Management to create systems to track off-road equipment through the telematics platform, support emergency operations by providing fuel status and electrical charging status on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis and is working on developing a system to better identify vehicles in flood zones and the ability to notify drivers and agencies when storms are imminent.

The adage “Where there is a will, there is a way” is accurate when Aronberg is concerned, especially in the fields of telematics and vehicle tracking. He finds innovative and out-of-the-box solutions to problems and develops ways to implement them. 



Originally posted on Global Fleet Management