Q&A with Top Maintenance Shop Award Winner

Congratulations to the Central Minnesota/Northern Wisconsin (BU 325) Maintenance Team on earning high honors as our 2020 Top Shop winner. In 2019, we implemented the Top Shop award along with a traveling trophy to recognize excellence in performance metrics, OneFleet principles, customer service and fleet health.

To learn more about what it takes to be a Top Shop winner, Brian B., Senior Manager, Fleet Operations, shared the following Q&A with winning Maintenance Manager John T.

What do you do to keep your team engaged in the OneFleet process?

The OneFleet program has been around for many years.  When it started, it was a great improvement to safety, organization and cleanliness, which led to technician engagement and improved productivity. Our team lives the six pillars of the OneFleet process.

The way I keep the team engaged is that I make it personal.  Our team philosophy is to learn why to do something rather than what to do. We explain and educate at every opportunity.  When we meet our goals or if there is extra work that was put in, we celebrate by having a cookout or a meal and a personal, sincere thank you to the team.

How do you “mentor” your people?

I enjoy getting to know everyone individually. Everyone’s personality, background and skill set is different and requires a little different method. I use a hands-on approach and work closely with them to learn their strong points and weak points. I encourage them to utilize their strongest qualities and help strengthen them in the weaker areas with real-time, on-the-spot education. I train my supervisors to continue this approach with an open mind and a teaching mindset. One of my mottos is to use the best idea, not my idea; thereby engaging everyone by collaborating.

How do you keep up with your fleet health?

I use what I call an “eyes on” approach to our days. I train my supervisors and technicians to look at the big picture when doing one scheduled repair. For example, if a truck is brought into the shop for a wheel repair, we walk around the truck and look for other potential problems that might be building. This is a predictive mindset rather than a reactive mindset which saves many maintenance dollars and down time for operations.

What has made you successful in your career?

My success started with the core values that my dad taught me when I was growing up on our dairy farm. He was a great teacher and a big reason why I enjoy teaching others. He taught me that it takes hard work and persistence and patience to follow your passion.

As they say, “You are only as good as the people that work under you” and I have the best team of supervisors and technicians.  I have also learned so much about corporate maintenance and professionalism from Bob B. and Roy S.  Additionally, my wife and four daughters have been my constant support throughout my 34-year career at Republic Services. I am proud of this career and I feel it has come naturally to me and I am good at what I do.  I continue to learn new things every day and that keeps me engaged.

What recommendations would you tell a young tech looking to get into the industry?

Republic Services is not just a job, it’s a network, a family and a great career. Two of my favorite quotes that I tell my technicians are:

“You can’t fix it if you don’t know how it works.” 

“Why is there never enough time to fix it right, but always enough time to fix it twice.”

Congratulations to John and the entire BU 325 Maintenance Team! Way to go!

Sauk Rapids, MN Shop Team (l to r): Ryley R., Jake P., Wayne W., Matt G., John T. and Steve S.
Sarona, WI Shop Team (l to r): John T., Dan S., Justin M., Anthony A., Brenan A., Curtis E., Daryl V., Zac J. and Nick S.