Defining NAFA’s Role


Claude Masters, CAFM

Manager, Acquisition and Fuel, Florida Power & Light

Claude, let’s talk about the CALSTART rela­tion­ship and the work­shops at the 2013 I&E and how that came together. 

Those who attended the 2013 I&E had the oppor­tu­nity to attend a new track of classes focus­ing on advanced tech­nol­ogy or alter­na­tive fuel vehi­cles. The classes offered assis­tance on how to choose and how to pick the right vehi­cle for your spe­cific fleet appli­ca­tion and how to jus­tify the cost for them – not only from a busi­ness case, but also how to get fund­ing for these types of vehi­cles.  Typ­i­cally, alter­na­tive fuel vehi­cles are more expen­sive to pur­chase on the front end, so you need to have a good under­stand­ing on how to write a busi­ness case for the vehi­cles and how to cost jus­tify them. 

CALSTART’s pres­ence at the I&E is part of NAFA’s Strate­gic Plan. NAFA’s posi­tion has always been to edu­cate our Mem­bers and pro­vide them with oppor­tu­ni­ties to learn about new prod­ucts and offer­ings that are avail­able to them in the com­mer­cial space.  I wanted CALSTART to be there to help Mem­bers make their own deci­sions based on hav­ing all of the right infor­ma­tion at hand. 

CALSTART is a non-profit orga­ni­za­tion like NAFA. The orga­ni­za­tion pro­vides a wealth of knowl­edge to all of the com­mer­cial offer­ings that are out there in the alter­na­tive fuel spec­trum. They pro­vide fleet pro­fes­sion­als with an oppor­tu­nity to learn about real-world expe­ri­ences.  Most impor­tantly, they help peo­ple come to their own con­clu­sions and make their own deci­sions based on what would work best for them and their par­tic­u­lar busi­ness appli­ca­tion or in the region or area of the coun­try that they hap­pen to oper­ate in.

The rela­tion­ship between NAFA and CALSTART has got­ten off to a great start and I look for­ward to the rela­tion­ship con­tin­u­ing to grow and ben­e­fit both orga­ni­za­tions.    

What did you think of this year’s edu­ca­tional ses­sions at the I&E overall?

I spent a lot of time walk­ing the floor and talk­ing to atten­dees and received plenty of pos­i­tive feed­back.  In my expe­ri­ence, peo­ple in our orga­ni­za­tion are pretty hon­est.  If they’re not happy about some­thing they aren’t shy about let­ting you know or offer­ing sug­ges­tions or rec­om­men­da­tions for changes.  I would say that the major­ity of the com­ments I got were all pos­i­tive about the edu­ca­tional ses­sions.  Peo­ple felt it was a good cur­ricu­lum and a nice bal­ance of top­ics offered. 

One of the neg­a­tives that is some­times heard is that there are too many good ses­sions going on at the same time. “I really wanted to go to this one but it com­peted with another one that I wanted to go to at the same time.”  How can you fix that when our goal is to pro­vide as much qual­ity edu­ca­tion as possible?

I really feel as though the whole strat­egy behind what I want to accom­plish dur­ing my tenure is going to take some time because there are rather big things we want to accom­plish. For exam­ple, yes­ter­day I turned over some doc­u­ments to Kate Vigneau, CAFM, who is a con­sul­tant that is work­ing on incor­po­rat­ing Six Sigma train­ing into the CAFM pro­gram. One of our I&E speak­ers made a ref­er­ence to Six Sigma, which was very pleas­ing to me, but I think that as we move for­ward it is going to take a lit­tle time to develop the cur­ricu­lum and get it incor­po­rated. I look at it as a build­ing block; It’s one of those things that will not pro­vide an imme­di­ate change, but the seeds are going to be planted and the foun­da­tion will be laid so that before I turn the reins over to the next NAFA pres­i­dent we will start to see some of these plants begin to grow and maybe even bear some fruit. 

What do you see as the impor­tant issues for fleet man­agers right now and how did the I&E approach those issues?

I think many fleet man­agers are strug­gling with a myr­iad of issues from advanced tech­nol­ogy to alter­na­tive fuels to safety con­cerns such as dis­tracted dri­ving.  Every­one is ask­ing how do you make a busi­ness case for these things? The I&E keynote speak­ers all played sig­nif­i­cant roles in approach­ing these issues.

We received hun­dreds and hun­dreds of ques­tions from the Mem­ber­ship for our Fire­side Chat with the OEMs.  The ques­tions typ­i­cally boiled down to peo­ple strug­gling with the pace of changes tak­ing place.  We’re faced with chang­ing model lines and new prod­uct launch dates; chang­ing vehi­cle tech­nolo­gies; new safety tech­nolo­gies – every­thing is just chang­ing so quickly. Just take a look at new tech­nolo­gies for safety; there are devices that block phones from mak­ing calls or tex­ting while dri­ving, reverse sens­ing cam­eras, blind spot indi­ca­tors, and radar sens­ing for cruise con­trol.  And those are only a few of the recent advancements.

NAFA Mem­bers see all of these tech­no­log­i­cal advance­ments and changes com­ing at them so quickly that they don’t have the abil­ity to take them all in.  They need help with eval­u­at­ing the changes and that’s where NAFA comes in.  I think that part of our role is to help with these changes. So what I do is try to look out to the peo­ple I feel like are experts in the indus­try to help with those things and then we read as much as we can and process it and we try to syn­the­size it and only regur­gi­tate the impor­tant facts.

How does NAFA do that?

In recent inter­views I did for FLEET­So­lu­tions mag­a­zine and for Fleet Man­age­ment Weekly, I men­tioned strate­gic plans for increas­ing NAFA’s level of inter­ac­tion with orga­ni­za­tions like CALSTART, the Depart­ment of Energy, the EPA, and Clean Cities orga­ni­za­tions.  We had rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Depart­ment of Energy and Clean Cities at the I&E. We’ve already started build­ing those rela­tion­ships. One of my objec­tives, and hope­fully we will be able to accom­plish it before I hand the reins over to the next NAFA pres­i­dent, is to get NAFA’s name asso­ci­a­tion ele­vated in Wash­ing­ton – to get us to the point in which we are help­ing to drive leg­is­la­tion as opposed to react­ing or respond­ing to it.

It all comes back to what I spoke about in my open­ing state­ment at the I&E. What does NAFA do for our mem­bers?  What is our role?  I believe one of our key roles is to try to syn­the­size all of the infor­ma­tion that is out there and try to help point peo­ple in the direc­tion of good cred­i­ble infor­ma­tion sources. We need to help them learn how to find the data that they need to make good deci­sions. In my open­ing state­ment, I said one of the rea­sons I feel peo­ple belong to NAFA is because they look to us to deal with the speed of change that our indus­try trav­els.

We all know that tech­nol­ogy changes very, very rapidly. We have more and more work com­ing at us all of the time and most of us sim­ply don’t have the extra time in the day to read and digest the infor­ma­tion. I believe one of our roles at NAFA is to help with that. The com­mit­tee chairs and the lead­ers at NAFA should digest the infor­ma­tion and the changes, and pro­vide direc­tion for NAFA Mem­bers to know where to go for the right sources of infor­ma­tion.  I want NAFA to be rec­og­nized as an indus­try leader for the right sources of infor­ma­tion.

Iron­i­cally, the other two I&E keynote speak­ers actu­ally echoed that exact same sen­ti­ment as well. Twitchy talked about the rate of change in our soci­ety and how it impacts our indus­try, and Derek Daly did the exact same thing. He spent a lot of time talk­ing about how the truly suc­cess­ful cor­po­ra­tions deal with change. Daly said it all comes down to just mak­ing an effort to refine the processes by which you make deci­sions, seek­ing that con­tin­u­ous improve­ment, and search­ing for the mech­a­nisms that can help you chan­nel infor­ma­tion and make great deci­sions. 

It was very, very pleas­ing to me to lis­ten to atten­dees speak about the issues they care about. These were the same issues that I thought would be crit­i­cal to NAFA mem­bers; and then to have those ideas rein­forced by the other two speak­ers at our con­fer­ence was very sat­is­fy­ing to know. 



Claude Mas­ters, CAFM, cur­rently serves as Pres­i­dent of NAFA Fleet Man­age­ment Asso­ci­a­tion.  He has been in the fleet indus­try for over 35 years and is cur­rently the Man­ager of Vehi­cle Acqui­si­tion and Fuel for Florida Power & Light.  Claude has served on numer­ous NAFA com­mit­tees – both on the Chap­ter and National level — since join­ing the Asso­ci­a­tion in 1996. Over the course of his career, Claude has devel­oped design spec­i­fi­ca­tions for a vari­ety of vehi­cles includ­ing biodiesel tech­nol­ogy, hybrids, and plug-in hybrid elec­tric tech­nolo­gies. In his cur­rent posi­tion, Claude is respon­si­ble for the Fleet Engi­neer­ing activ­i­ties at FPL which entails the cra­dle to grave func­tions from spec­i­fi­ca­tion devel­op­ment to dis­posal. Addi­tion­ally, Claude man­ages the fuel func­tions which include alter­na­tive fuel(s) as well as con­ven­tional fuel usage.  Prior to join­ing FPL, Claude worked for Hous­ton Light­ing and Power, cur­rently known as Cen­ter­Point Energy, for 29 years. Claude earned his Cer­ti­fied Auto­mo­tive Fleet Man­ager (CAFM) des­ig­na­tion in 1997, and has been a mem­ber of the Ford Motor Com­pany Fleet Advi­sory Board since 2006.