University Fleet Operations recognized for exemplary service six years in a row

Six years strong! University Fleet Operations (UFO), part of Parking and Transportation Services, has been recognized for their consistent, exemplary service for the sixth year in a row as one of the 100 Best Fleets by the National Association of Fleet Administrators (NAFA). NAFA is the world’s largest membership association for individuals and teams who manage the vehicular fleet and mobility responsibilities for their employers.

UFO, or Fleet, provides mechanical repairs and fueling services for all university-owned vehicles, trailers, carts, and equipment. Fleet receives and inspects the equipment, registers, titles, and plates it, inventory tags it, applies decals, safety inspects, enters it into the database, creates a maintenance schedule, and makes it ready for departmental use. UFO even sends out notifications when preventative maintenance is due.

With a little over 1,200 pieces of university equipment, according to Assistant Director of Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) Mark Kaligian, some would say they literally keep the university moving.

Aside from their responsibility to maintain campus equipment, UFO also services outside state agencies like the Texas Facilities Commission (TFC) and the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and operates almost like a full-service shop with two UT automotive shops. By doing this, they are able to augment revenue and save costs to the university by bringing in their own stream of revenue.

Because of their work, not only has the 14-person team been recognized consecutively in NAFA’s 100 Best Fleets, but they also ranked number eight this year, their highest-ranking position to date. Additionally, UT’s UFO has historically been the number one higher education campus on the list. To give a better idea of the scope of this ranking, there are roughly 38,000 fleets in North America. However, not every one of those fleets applies to be ranked.

When asked what UFO may have done differently this year to earn a higher ranking, Kaligian believes the team's COVID response was notable.

“We provided vehicles to campus vaccine locations and drivers to move people around; we did maintenance on those vehicles and found occupant dividers to protect riders,” Kaligian said.

Although there is no specific scorecard by which recipients are ranked, NAFA does hold each applicant to their 12 Criteria for Excellence, “all of which encompass the qualities of a high-performing fleet.” The 12 Criteria for Excellence are: Accountability, Use of Technology and Information, Collaboration, Creativity, Celebration, Evidence of a High Trust Culture, Performance Recognition, Doing It Right the First Time, Quick Efficient Turnaround, Competitive Pricing, Staff Development, and Resources Stewardship.

Meeting the 12 criteria is a feat itself, but Kaligian has full confidence in UFO.

“We are fortunate to have a really talented group, a lot of longevity,” Kaligian said. “When you have technicians that are skilled, they do repair time in half the time of others. Unlike the outside market where you help complete strangers, we know who’s walking through the door. There’s not a lot of strangers here, that makes the communication and workflow go faster.”

Working toward NAFA’s standards seems like enough to exemplify all of FAS’ core values. When asked about it, Kaligian mentioned the values he feels UFO embodies the most are service, for obvious reasons, and integrity.

“You don’t ever want to disappoint people. I’m more impressed by the sustained excellence than by any ranking,” Kaligian said. “We’ll rise and fall on the list but staying on it is amazing.”
Kaligian also explains Fleets’ administrative team plays a key role in their success. They are able to process large volumes of work in short amounts of time. UFO’s success comes from the feeling that everyone involved has a stake in the operations and running it as such.

Associate Director of Parking and Transportation Services Blanca Gamez shares her pride in UFO being a nationally recognized model for success. "I am truly proud of their achievements and meaningful impacts made not only on campus but in the fleet industry," Gamez said.

Not related to NAFA but similar, UFO has also been recognized by the American Public Works Association (APWA) as one of the top 50 Leading Fleets in Government Fleet Magazine. UFO was one of three universities in the top 50.

Icon showing logo for NAFA 100 Best Fleets
May 11, 2022