were also members of APWA. It was at my first national conference that I was introduced to a fleet professional certification program. After listening to a presentation about the course I knew I needed to invest in something like this. At that time, the program being offered required attendance at a conference to test for the different sections. Based on my travel budget and the number of modules, I figured it would take three to four years to complete the certification and I didn’t want to wait that long. As luck would have it, not long after this conference, the CPFP certification was introduced to me by our new Public Works Director. The county was a member of APWA and he was active in the Nevada Chapter. He added me as a member and signed me up for a three-day webinar detailing the CPFP certification process. The eight core competencies were similar to those presented at the conference I had attended but were much more specific to managing a public fleet. At the end of the third session it was obvious to me how significantly managing a private fleet differed from public fleet management. I decided then that I both wanted and needed to get my CPFP certification. The great thing about the CPFP was that it was self-paced and, once you felt you were ready to take the test, you could do so at a proxy location in your area. This allowed me to study when time allowed and the expense of going to a conference for testing was no longer an issue. Immediately after the webinar I reached out to my local counterparts and was fortunate to find someone who had gone through the process and was willing to lend me his study material. In order to plan my study schedule I found out when the next testing time was available and began the process of preparing myself for the exam. It was a number of months
away so I blocked out a few hours each week to begin reviewing the materials. I kept all of the study guides along with the webinar material handy because I found myself regularly referring to them as I continued the ongoing on-thejob-training of becoming a public fleet professional. This made the material more interesting and applicable to the day-to-day requirements of managing a public fleet. As the test date was approaching I’m not embarrassed to say that I was getting a little bit nervous. It had been about twenty years since my last real exam and even though I felt ready, I didn’t want to fail. It took me most of the three hours allotted to complete the exam before I hit the send button. It seemed longer than it was before receiving the message that I had passed. I took the test later in the afternoon so I wasn’t able to share the great news with my boss or coworkers. To be honest I hadn’t made a big deal about taking the test because I had a sliver of doubt that I would pass it. It has been about ten years now since achieving the CPFP certification and I still keep my study guides handy. The information is applicable every day as I continue to learn how to be a public fleet professional. The Financial Management section gave me a much clearer understanding of the definition of an internal service fund and the accounting chargeback principles that go with it. I used the resource material from the Information Technology section to help justify an enhancement to my fleet management information system which included a replacement scoring module that allowed me to identify the most critical replacements that needed to take place. During the budget cuts we experienced as an organization I used the information in the Human Resource Management section to justify my staffing ratios and was able to retain all of my technicians. In short, there isn’t a single content
area from the CPFP that I haven’t used in the nearly 13 years I have worked for Washoe County. Regardless of where you are in your career as a public fleet professional, I highly recommend you sign up for the next available APWA CPFP webinar. The content might seem overwhelming at first so don’t feel pressured to take the exam before you are ready. Partner with someone who has taken the test. Borrow, or better yet, invest in the study material. Even if I hadn't completed the certification process the resource material has been invaluable in helping make the transition from being a fleet manager in the private sector to becoming a public fleet professional. It is with great pride that I am able to sign my name David Gonzales, CPFP. David Gonzales can be reached at (775) 328-2121 or dgonzales@washoecounty. us.
“There never were in the world two opinions alike, no more than two hairs or two grains; the most universal quality is diversity.” – Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), French writer and philosopher
February 2018 issue of the APWA Reporter, the official magazine of the American Public Works Association