An ACT News Executive Interview with Dan Berlenbach, Manager, Fleet Services Bureau, Department of Financial Management, City of Long Beach, California
Dan Berlenbach has much to be proud of. He’s managing an award-winning fleet for the City of Long Beach, and the awards keep coming. The Fleet Services Bureau was just ranked 6th in the nation in the 2018 Leading Fleets competition, from the thousands of fleet operations in the nation. Fleet Services manages and maintains the City’s wide variety of vehicles, including police cars, fire engines, boats, helicopters, street sweepers and refuse trucks.
The City of Long Beach was the recipient of a 2018 ACT Expo Fleet Award, in the category of “In it for the Long Haul.” This award honors organizations that have demonstrated a lifetime commitment to sustainable transportation, often pioneers in their respective fields.
In keeping with that pioneering spirit, the City of Long Beach was recognized for its comprehensive Green Fleet Program that prioritizes alternative fuel use with a mix of vehicles including hybrid-electric, compressed natural gas/liquefied natural gas, renewable natural gas, and battery electric.
The Fleet Services Bureau was just ranked 6th in the nation in the 2018 Leading Fleets competition, from the thousands of fleet operations in the nation.
Fleet Services takes pride in the use of cleaner, alternatively fueled vehicles. They continuously strive to provide high-quality, efficient and sustainable operations to the City. Dan is proud of the consistent effort and teamwork from all of Fleet’s staff.
It’s worth noting that Dan spent decades on active duty in the US Air Force, as a heavy equipment mechanic progressing up to managing a fleet of 21,000 vehicles. Read on to learn more about his time serving our nation. Today he sets new benchmarks among peers and peer cities, encouraging forward thinking and continuous improvement, while developing a top performing team.
ACT News caught up with Dan to learn about his unique perspective with 44 years in the industry and the management of a top municipal fleet.
ACT News: What are three words to describe the Fleet Services Bureau?
Dan Berlenbach: Pride, service, and accomplishment.
ACT News: How would you describe your workplace culture?
Dan Berlenbach: We are a “collaborative family.” We strive to involve every employee in making all aspects of the job better, and we do our best to make this a place to work that recognizes performance and treats you like family.
ACT News: What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?
Dan Berlenbach: Mentorship—As someone who’s been in fleets for decades, I won’t say I’ve seen it all, but I have seen a lot. Those lessons are what I try to pass on to those I work with…you could say they are “life-hacks” for fleets!
ACT News: Before working at the Fleet Services Bureau, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
Dan Berlenbach: I was fortunate to spend 29 years on active duty with the US Air Force as a heavy equipment mechanic and fleet manager. One of the most interesting (and fun) things I did there was to help manage the Air Force vehicle fleets at our Pacific Air Force bases in Alaska, Hawaii and the Far East. There was lots of travel to Korea, Japan and other states and countries in the region…I spent many years overseas with the Air Force and it has given me a broad perspective on both fleet and life in general.
The fleet business is changing at an almost exponential rate—new hires should embrace technology, and stay abreast of technology’s impact in our fleet world.
ACT News: What advice would you give to recent new hires at the Fleet Services Bureau?
Dan Berlenbach: The fleet business is changing at an almost exponential rate—new hires should work hard at whatever assignment they have, embrace technology, and dig in to stay abreast of technology’s impact in our fleet world.
ACT News: What are your hopes for the clean transportation and energy industry?
Dan Berlenbach: That collectively, we can accelerate sustainable solutions to reduce our environmental footprint, both quickly and at scale. This requires a full acknowledgement of the problem, and a sustained commitment of resources.
ACT News: What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?
Dan Berlenbach: I worked as a helper in a marina, mostly painting boat bottoms. I learned to be thorough at my work, whatever it was. In the case of painting the bottom of a boat, my boss taught me there should be no “holidays” (i.e., missed spots). I learned that any job you do should be 100%, thorough, and with your best effort.
ACT News: What does true leadership mean to you?
Dan Berlenbach: Creating the climate where people want to follow you, not only because your path is spot on, but they trust you to get them there.
ACT News: If given a chance, who would you like to be for a day?
Dan Berlenbach: I’m a rocker and would enjoy being Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) for a day.
ACT News: What is your favorite thing to do in the wonderful city of Tokyo?
Dan Berlenbach: Dining at my favorite Izakawa restaurant in Shibuya. Known for their delicious grilled bar food and great beer!