Every year the Georgia Chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA), recognizes Fleet Maintenance Divisions across the state by awarding the Fleet Maintenance Excellence Award to the Division with outstanding achievements. This years’ recipient is John Burton, Fleet Superintendent for the City of Valdosta. The Fleet Maintenance Division falls under the Public Works Department and is primarily responsible for the repair, maintenance, and refueling of most city vehicles.
Everything that the city does from transporting individuals to sweeping debris is dependent on having functional department vehicles. Without a Fleet Maintenance Division, the city would have to outsource vehicle maintenance. Most auto shops operate on a first come first serve basis meaning that they would not be able to prioritize city vehicles and would thus place them in a queue with all other customers. These maintenance shops also have a much longer turnaround time than the Fleet Division, leaving city departments without a functioning vehicle for an extended period of time. The Fleet Division can prioritize the vehicles that come in and know what is needed or how it impacts a department to have a vehicle out of service, so they strive to return vehicles the same day that they are dropped off.
Turnaround time is just one of the many reasons why the Valdosta Fleet Division is being recognized along with Fleet Superintendent John Burton. Burton acknowledges his team and contributes this accomplishment to their hard work and dedication. “I am just overwhelmed to receive this award and for the recognition of all the work that we do. It’s not just me, it’s all the mechanics that help so this represents the whole city’s Fleet Maintenance Program,” said Burton.
The nomination for this award came directly from Public Works Director, Richard Hardy, who says that when overlooking the fleet division’s capabilities, it became clear they were deserving of recognition. The division maintains more than 300 vehicles that are critical to the city’s daily operations and says that thanks to John Burton he can reassure all departments they are in good hands. “It is an honor to see individuals from the city get recognized for their accomplishments,” said Hardy.
John has a long list of responsibilities and is able to provide insight into the fleet for the city departments. When it comes time to make a change in vehicles or update the fleet, he writes all the specifications of every piece of equipment to make sure that it can sustain the environment that it is placed in and the vehicle is going to last. Seeing as the city has equipment that is 18-20 years old, it is important to make sure they have the right people and training. Burton is constantly working with his team to keep the fleet in tack, focused, and continuing to meet the needs of the city.