There’s no “I” in “team”
VIC OLIVER spends a lot of time working with our industry’s top transport operators, but one man that stands out for him is Andre Pieterse, group fleet manager for Onelogix – Oliver’s captain of the industry for 2014.
Andre Pieterse joined Vehicle Delivery Services (VDS), a division of Onelogix, in November 2006 as workshop manager. His brief from the management of the company was to improve the quality of the fleet and to install proper management tools and systems that would turn the fleet into a world-class operation. It’s fair to say that Pieterse has achieved this objective with flying colours …
Pieterse says his passion for trucks – together with the sound training and mentorship that he received as an apprentice motor mechanic, with the road transport division of what was at the time known as the South African Railways and Harbours, and a vast amount of hands-on experience in the management of other large fleets in South Africa prior to joining VDS – equipped him for the job.
Nonetheless, he is very quick to tell us that the improved quality and image of the VDS fleet is a joint team effort from his workshop team and the senior management in the company.
He is very proud of his hand-picked workshop team, who are responsible, caring and loyal to the company. “All my technicians, who are led by Danie Bezuidenhout, are extremely proud of the fleet and go the extra mile to ensure that the vehicles are serviced correctly, and that the image of the company is upheld at all times,” he beams.
He is ecstatic about the support, understanding and guidance that he receives from the VDS senior management team, too. In all his years of working in the heavy vehicle industry, Pieterse says he has never had such good support from senior management.
His ability to install modern computerised fleet management systems originates from the experience that he gained while working as a senior technical superintendent at the South African Road Transport head office (a division of South African Railways). Part of his job responsibilities within that function was to develop a modern fleet control system.
Describing a typical day at the office – and workshop – Pieterse explains that he adopts a hands-on policy, where he is continually involved at ground level in the workshop. He also makes sure that he is aware of all daily operational issues, and strives to ensure that the fleet is always available to meet operational requirements.
His daily tasks involve controlling, motivating and planning workshop activities for the day. He also liaises between the different departments and business units within the group. Daily analysis of workshop and vehicle costs, to ensure that they remain within the set benchmarks and within the budget, is also a fundamental aspect of his work.
“One thing I do not adhere to, however, is office hours,” says Pieterse – he is available 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.
When asked about the biggest daily challenge that he faces, he replies: “To ensure that the fleet of vehicles is available, reliable and safe to operate at all times, to meet the expectations of our valued customers.”
Just the attitude a fleet manager of such a well-respected company should have.