An ACT News Executive Interview with Mike Hasinec, vice president of maintenance, Penske Truck Leasing, in the vanguard of North America’s truck leasing services.
Penske Truck Leasing (Penske) is a North American leading provider of full-service truck leasing, truck rental, logistics, and truck contract maintenance. Penske has been a key part of the alternative fuels industry for more than 25 years and operates alternative fuel vehicles in all weight classes.
This year, Penske is celebrating its 50th year in business, and Mike Hasinec has been with the company for 41 of those years. Over his career with Penske, Mike has witnessed first-hand how vehicle technology has changed over the decades. Mike began his Penske career as a customer service representative, advancing to positions as a maintenance supervisor, district service manager, regional vice president of field maintenance operations, and then to his current role as vice president of maintenance, based out of Penske’s headquarters in Reading, Pennsylvania.
Mike spoke at the Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo this past April, participating on a panel focused on workforce development and meeting the vehicle maintenance challenge, with a focus on best practices for successfully integrating alternative fuels and advanced technologies into a fleet.
ACT News caught up with Mike to hear how he manages his multiple responsibilities including technical training, new product testing, preventative maintenance processes, vehicle applications, parts and tools policies, supplier management, and regulatory compliance.
ACT News: You oversee technical training at Penske for a maintenance workforce that totals nearly 9,000. What workforce development and training challenges do you face, and what benefits do you now see, as Penske has incorporated alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies into the fleet?
Mike Hasinec: Our biggest challenge when it comes to training is staying current, as well as ahead of technology. Technology today is changing at a rapid pace and developing training programs, whether internally or with a supplier, takes time. Our focus is to bring our technicians’ skill levels and competency up as quickly as possible. Alternative fuels and advanced technology vehicles, such as EVs, are not new to our fleet. We have maintained vehicles with these technologies for some time now.
ACT News: Penske Truck Leasing is taking proactive steps to ensure the company is helping customers manage their environmental impact. What are some of the initiatives and/or partnerships you have been able to implement that help customers accomplish their sustainability goals?
Mike Hasinec: Our customers see us as their advisor and not just their transportation provider. Educating our customers on the various technologies available today, and how these technologies might fit into their operations, is something I think we do well. Listening to their strategic objectives and knowing their operation allows us to provide them with sound advice. Being a leader in the leasing and rental business requires us to be all things to all customers. We have the infrastructure to support our customers, as we have subject matter experts in all parts of the business, including what financial assistance may be available.
ACT News: What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?
Mike Hasinec: The thing I like best about working for Penske is the diversity of our fleet and the interaction with customers. When you consider the makeup of our fleet and the thousands of customers we have running in various applications, I am never bored. Not doing the same thing day-in and day-out keeps my job fresh and challenges me every day.
ACT News: What is the best part about holding the title of Vice President, Maintenance at Penske Truck Leasing? What is the most challenging part?
Mike Hasinec: One thing about my role is I am very engaged with suppliers. This allows me to not only stay current with technology but I also get to see what’s coming down the road and what they are working on for the future. Our fleet is comprised of almost every OEM in the industry; this requires me to stay current with all of them. Working with and managing so many different suppliers can be challenging at times, unlike fleets that run only a few OEM vehicles. This variety drives the need for various tooling, training, and procedures.
ACT News: How have you seen the trucking industry change over the years, and especially since you took on your current role at Penske Truck Leasing?
Mike Hasinec: I started my career with Penske at an entry-level position 41 years ago. Having moved numerous times and progressing with my career allowed me to see many changes. I came to our corporate office 17 years ago and the amount of changes over that period has been dramatic. Everything from technician training and recruitment, to the technology on the vehicles has changed a lot. The vehicles today are more reliable from a hardware and component standpoint. However, the challenges everyone in our industry faces today are due to the changes in the emissions and the technology that comes along with it. The good news is the OEMs have been making progress in developing more reliable systems. Some other technology changes have been in the areas of automation with transmissions as well as collision mitigation systems. I see technology like this continuing as the trucking industry works to make trucks operate and feel more like an automobile for a variety of reasons.
ACT News: What advice would you offer to young professionals interested in pursuing a similar career path?
Mike Hasinec: The trucking industry, especially on the maintenance side of the business, is nothing like what people that are not in the industry think it is. There is a stigma that maintenance is a dirty, greasy job, that it does not require any real skills, and is not necessarily a great career. I would like to inform people their perception is very wrong. The technology on vehicles today requires a technician to be very skilled in the mechanical aspect as well as the troubleshooting and diagnostic aspects. Today’s technicians spend more time with a computer than they do with a wrench. A company like Penske allows everyone to grow to whatever level they want and I am proof of that. If people want to be challenged all the time in their jobs, our industry is the right place for them.
ACT News: What does true leadership mean to you?
Mike Hasinec: Leadership is all about guidance and not micro managing. True leaders allow others to grow and learn. They are also there to support their teams and guide them when needed. Sometimes the best thing a leader can do is to get out of the way and let their teams move forward. This allows the members of the team to learn, grow, and feel part of the overall accomplishments of the organization.
ACT News: What is the most important thing you have learned in the last five years?
Mike Hasinec: The world is changing and what once worked in the past may not work in the future. Being diverse, understanding others, and learning all the time is important. There is a constant in life and work: that constant is change. Learning to embrace and understand change, as well as navigate it, will allow you to grow and be successful.