The fleet management industry has such a diverse range of people and roles, and everyone has a unique story of their journey in our industry. This month we talk to Mark Virgo, Team Leader Mechanical Services – Kangaroo Island Council, South Australia.
FI: How did you get started in fleet and plant, and what was your first job in the industry?
MV: Having started my mechanics apprenticeship back in 1982, I progressed through the retail industry in light vehicles culminating in a period working at a Nissan dealership here on Kangaroo Island managing the workshop. Fifteen years ago, I took on my current position with Kangaroo Island Council.
FI: Tell us about your role and the kind of fleet and plant you manage.
MV: My role is still more of a hands-on one as we are only a small council with a large area, many kilometres of unsealed and sealed roads.
Being an isolated community, access to outsourcing is very limited so we have to be able to efficiently and safely maintain a very diverse fleet ranging from a whipper snipper through to D6 Bulldozer – all done in house with much of it done in a field type environment to improve plant efficiencies. We are also involved in fabrication and repairs to other infrastructure such as boat ramps, marinas and recreational facilities.
Our team is only three including a 3rd year apprentice so there is never too much idle time.
The team also handles most of the logistics for the organisation including inwards and outwards freight, dealing with local suppliers and supply of all required spare parts. This role expanded very rapidly earlier in the year during the fires when we had a much-needed influx of plant and staff from so many councils across the state. Without that help we would have been in dire straits as our own staff had been fighting those fires with very little rest for two weeks – but that’s what we do in times of need.
FI: What’s the favourite part of your job?
MV: This would have to be by far working with such great people in such a unique location which throws up so many challenges but is so rewarding when those challenges are met. Then, being able to enjoy the unspoilt pleasures that this place offers. Did I mention the fishing is second to none?
FI: What are some of the biggest challenges you see facing fleet professionals this year and beyond?
MV: Without a doubt this last period dating back to just before Christmas for us has proven to be some of the most challenging times in most people’s living memory. We, as you all know and as have other communities across the country, dealt with disasters from crippling drought to devastating bushfires, floods and now the “Virus”. Personally, I’m in the frame of mind now that we can get through this and that there is no challenge that could be thrown up that can come close to recent times.
FI: How do you think the fleet department can make sure it has buy-in and support from the rest of the organisation?
MV: We do weekly and monthly reports constantly mentioning the importance of replacement at optimum times, increased maintenance costs due to ageing fleet and other examples of good fleet management principles. I think they are getting tired of me quoting from the Plant and Vehicle Management Manual which makes me look forward to the new version even more. ‡
FI: If you weren’t in the fleet industry, what would you be doing?
MV: Simple answer that involves a deck chair, esky and a fishing rod.
‡ Editor note: This is one of our favourite member profile comments! The PVMM Ed4 is available here
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