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AEMP President offers predictions for 2011

The Association of Equipment Management Professionals (AEMP) represents on- and off-road equipment professionals who work in construction, government, utilities, and other industries. We recently spoke with the organization’s president, Daryl Crear, about the benefits of membership and what fleets can expect in 2011.

The equipment supervisor for Rumpke Consolidated Companies, Inc. (www.rumpke.com), Crear oversees the company’s 600-plus machines. His “yellow iron” responsibilities include articulated trucks, as well as bulldozers, excavators, and rubber tire loaders. The following is an edited version of our conversation.

Question: What is the mission of AEMP?

Answer: We bring equipment manufacturers, end-users, and dealers together to the same table to reach common goals. For example, a lot of construction, utility, and other types of companies have mixed fleets. They deal with multiple OEMs. And, at the end of the day, if you wanted to track things like hours run, fuel burned, idle hours, and other data, the format and language were different for each OEM. We wanted to try and get all of the dealers from the various OEMs to use the same technology and terminology. And that’s what we’ve done with our new telematics program. Now, end-users are able to get the same information, the same way, with one system.

That’s one of the things we like to think we’re here for: To share the needs of end-users with the manufacturers, and to help them work with us.

Q: A major focus is professional development, correct?

A: Absolutely. As technologies are getting more advanced, we’re getting shorter and shorter on technicians. One of the things the Association does is provide scholarships to encourage younger kids coming out of school to pursue equipment management as a career. If we’re going to address this shortage, we need to hit it from bottom up.

And, at the same time, we have to continually train existing technicians so they don’t get left behind. We started AEMP University to provide education for professionals who want to become CEMs (Certified Equipment Managers). We also came up with an entry-level program where younger or junior shop personnel can learn how to become managers. A lot of the training is available online, so technicians can do it on their own time.

Q: Is it more important than ever for equipment managers to develop and hone skills that separate them from the pack?

A: It used to be there were a number of people who could walk in and work on machines for you. It didn’t require any certain skill knowledge. But we’ve reached a point where you need people to be educated on things like hybrid technology, advanced engines.

As the economy continues to improve, you’ll eventually have to update your fleet. And there’s more emphasis on getting greener. The reality is: if you don’t [train your people] now, you’re going to find yourself in a handicapped position versus your competitors. It’s going to be a difference maker.

Q: What are some of the headlines our customers should be looking for in 2011?

A: I’ve talked with other supervisors here in the Midwest, and we’re seeing trends starting to change. Many smaller companies that weren’t able to tread water during the downturn, those jobs are lost. But many mid-sized companies are holding their own. For us, a lot of our success revolved around seeing the slowdown coming and making adjustments. We weren’t afraid to [take business] that wasn’t traditionally our core business.

For 2011, a lot of mid-sized companies have already booked bigger state- and federally-funded construction and highway jobs. It looks like it might be the beginning of an upswing. I think we’ve found the bottom, and now we’re going to work our way back.

Q: “Doing more with less” seems to be a necessity now.

A: I don’t see that going away. You have to be able to do more with less, whether on the maintenance end or in terms of replacing equipment. A couple of years ago, it would have been nothing to go out and replace things. Now, I ask, do I really need to replace that or do I want to? And I scrutinize who is getting new equipment and make sure they are making a profit. That’s how I know if we can actually afford it.

Q: Are there any management tips you can offer?

A: Open communication with your employees is really important. When the downturn started, we made employees aware of our hurdles, and made them a part of the decision-making process. You would be surprised, how much getting them into buying in does for your bottom line and your morale.

For more information on education opportunities with AEMP, visit: www.aemp.org.
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January 16, 2012   admin   Informative News    

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