Charles Schott, Rollins: Upfitting your vehicles in unpredictable times
Having global expertise with a variety of vehicle types is certainly an advantage to finding the right solutions for large scale fleet operations and this is something that Charles "Charlie" Schott brings to US headquartered international pest control company Rollins Inc.
Besides being an Army veteran and West Point graduate, Mr. Schott was Director of Global Fleet Operations for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer for nearly two decades where he created regional fleet programs in Europe, Asia, and throughout the Americas, mainly for class two passenger vehicles.
He also helped the evolution of Brink’s armored trucks by upfitting class 4-8 trucks, and he is now Fleet Director for Rollins Inc. based out of Atlanta Georgia. Rollins operates in more than 700 locations worldwide (20+ countries) and is best known for its Orkin pest control services.
No. of Countries under management
United States (Rollins operates 20 + overall)
No. of Employees in management area
18,000 in the US
No. of Vehicles in management area
14,600 in the US
First of all, we must understand that every fleet is different and much of this has to do with what you are carrying. The type of fleet you have affects maintenance and repairs and other aspects such as a look towards alternative fuels.
While Mr. Schott mainly worked with carrying passengers at Pfizer, Brink’s involved carrying large amounts of money and now he works with Rollins which calls for transporting hazardous materials. For the last two, this requires customization and well thought out upfitting.
“While I mainly worked with class two sedans at Pfizer, I worked with class 4-8 trucks at Brinks, upfitting their vehicles with biometrics or to say state of the art (at the time) finger print readers. Keep in mind that we were carrying large amounts of cash, different than something like potato chips,” says Mr. Schott.
“Today, I mainly manage small class two upfitted trucks for pest control technicians as well as salespeople. Of the more than 14,000 vehicles, I’d say that approximately 75% are class 1-3 trucks with the rest being sedans and SUVs,” he says.
Serving customers for over 120 years, Orkin pest control services started in 1901 (Source: Rollins)
At Rollins, trucks are used instead of vans or SUVs. Drivers are kept separate from the cargo being transported to protect them from possible contamination. Vehicle sharing is also not a good option for route-based services, especially for a pest control company with upfitted trucks and special equipment, according to Mr. Schott.
One thing a company such as Rollins needs to be on top of is government regulation. It needs to be able to respond quickly to legislative changes regarding issues such as chemical transport or container usage.
“We need to know what new contamination control products are available on the market (gloves, sprays, spill kits, etc.)” says the executive.
One change the company has gone through is going from gas operated engines (for chemical dispensing) to motors and pumps which are electric-powered.
As for the trucks themselves which are route-based vehicles demanding a lot of range, Rollins mainly uses vehicles running on internal combustion engines.
The company does favor hybrids but as charging infrastructure is not up to par in the US right now, it has only taken small steps toward full electric vehicles (EV). “We are introducing it with some of our maintenance or security vehicles which go from station to station,” says the executive.
With the semiconductor and raw material shortages impacting vehicle deliveries and other global factors affecting business worldwide, we are living in an unpredictable environment. To deal with this, Mr. Schott stated that fleet operators need two things.
First, fleet managers must have a Tried & True Process, or to say a vehicle ordering process which allows for flexibility and one that has been proven to be affective and reliable, something that Mr. Schott calls Blocking and Tackling.
“This means taking the process you already have and accelerating it by shifting deadlines. For Rollins, we used to have a Fall order in September or October but orders this year have been pushed up to July,” the executive says.
You need to be well trained in forecasting and remember, if you had no process to begin with, you have nothing to accelerate.
Secondly, develop the ability to maneuver with specific automakers and create Brand Loyalty. If your strategy is to shop the market every year and having OEMs compete by putting out RFPs in search of the lowest price, it is unlikely that you will have vehicles today.
OEMs do not have a lot of supply and they are working with the pre-determined allocation of vehicles.
Production is down, even at dealerships, and fleet is currently competing for a smaller piece of the pie. Developing a loyalty program will help in the unpredictable times of today.
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Top Photo: Charles Schott (handout)