Sukut Equipment
Colby Coleman

Overachiever Awards: 'The Facilitator' Colby Coleman

Dec. 15, 2023
Colby Coleman, fleet analyst at Sukut Equipment, doesn't work directly on trucks, but his use of data tools always comes in handy to save on maintenance expenses.

Colby Coleman | “The Facilitator”
Fleet Analyst | Sukut Equipment

When Colby Coleman got promoted in 2020 to his current position as truck fleet manager for Sukut Equipment, Parts and Rentals, he took on a lot of new responsibilities. Foremost of these was handling the maintenance for the company’s Classes 2 through 8 work trucks, comprising 285 vehicles maintained mostly by third parties. He kept his previous responsibilities as operations manager as well, handling building maintenance, security, and upkeep at the 15-acre Bakersfield site.

Coleman, whose eclectic resume includes managing parts for a Freightliner dealership and working in a junkyard, also inherited two major problems costing the company money. First off, thieves were ripping the catalytic converters from parked pickups and F-550s.

“We were getting hit multiple times a week, every week,” recalled Coleman, adding batteries were also taken by opportunists. Replacing a catalytic converter could range from $2,000 to $2,500 for parts and labor, and the worker might not be able to get their gear to the worksite. What’s worse, thieves would inadvertently pillage the diesel trucks’ aftertreatment components, too.

Read more: Anti-theft device stops ‘cat’ burglars in their tracks

“Because these guys weren’t the smartest, they were cutting the DPF out of some of the trucks thinking they were just really big catalytic converters,” Coleman surmised. And those DPFs were really expensive, with some out of stock.

“Our company took a big hit when all of the [parts] were being stolen out of fleet trucks,” affirmed Felix Vallan, the Sukut parts sales associate who nominated Coleman for the Overachiever Award. “Colby did research and found the best solution to be able to keep our trucks safe and not have to pay the costly price of replacing the whole converter.”

After testing several options that weren’t the right fit for the operation because of install times and restricted access to drain plugs, the former automotive technician found a local father-son shop called FS Performance Engineering (FSPE). This small manufacturer provided robust skid plate-style protection and easy access for technicians to maintain the trucks. To ensure his trucks had the best fit, Coleman even passed along feedback from the dealer that installed the anti-theft plates to FSPE.

The engineering shop then tweaked the design and sells that version now.

Modernization was also on the docket. Prior to Coleman taking the role, maintenance was handled as needed by the dispatch department, and preventive maintenance was not tracked.

Vallan said Coleman went through service and repair records from 2018 to 2020 and created an extensive spreadsheet to track each truck’s make, model, mileage, and maintenance and repair needs. “There was nothing in use at the time,” Vallan noted.

He also started tracking repeat offender issues, such as ball joint repairs. Always on a quest for continuous improvement—and having previously optimized Sukut’s warehouse and shipping department spaces to run more efficiently—Coleman has taken the next step in modernization. The fleet is in the process of integrating Trimble’s B2W Maintain software into its Samsara telematics solution.

“We’re going to start actually having preventive maintenance notifications, instead of relying on our employees or my spreadsheet,” Coleman said. “Now we can catch things in real time instead of following it—we’re ahead of it finally.”

Moreover, Coleman also earned the appreciation of his coworkers for setting up a network of mobile maintenance providers for the trucks to be maintained on site or at the worker’s home when possible, rather than having them visit a shop.

“Even though it’s a little bit more on the upfront, [mobile maintenance] is so much more convenient for the guys in the field,” Coleman said. “The last thing you want to do is pull somebody’s toolbox away from them because it needs an oil change or alignment.” 
Coleman said he enjoys what he does every day and appreciates Sukut finding new challenges and positions for him: “I just want to take care of the company, because I know they’ll take care of me.”

About the Author

John Hitch | Editor-in-chief, Fleet Maintenance

John Hitch is the editor-in-chief of Fleet Maintenance, where his mission is to provide maintenance management and technicians with the the latest information on the tools and strategies to keep their fleets' commercial vehicles moving.

He is based out of Cleveland, Ohio, and has worked in the B2B journalism space for more than a decade.

Hitch was previously senior editor for FleetOwner, and covers everything related to trucking and commercial vehicle equipment, including breaking news, the latest trends and best practices. He previously wrote about manufacturing and advanced technology for IndustryWeek and New Equipment Digest.

Prior to that he was editor for Kent State University's student magazine, The Burr, and a freelancer for Cleveland Magazine. He is an award-winning journalist and former sonar technician, where he served honorably aboard the fast-attack submarine USS Oklahoma City (SSN-723).

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