Tag Archives: omnitrans employees

Sales Supervisor solves lost wallet mystery, returning $314 to Omni rider

Herman Reed and Diane Bojorquez

Herman Reed and Diane Bojorquez

We love a happy ending—especially when we have a hand in making it happen!

On September 4, 2015, Omnitrans Coach Operator Jesse Lakes found a man’s wallet at the Fontana Metrolink station with $314 in cash inside. Concerned for the owner, the conscientious driver tagged it and turned it into our Lost and Found department.

A card in the wallet identified the owner as Fontana resident Herman Reed. Sales Supervisor Diane Bojorquez made several attempts to reach Herman with no luck. His phone was disconnected, and a letter sent to his address was returned as undeliverable. She even approached me for help in tracking him down on social media. We managed to find his Facebook profile and messaged him, but still there was no response.

Normally Omnitrans only holds lost items for 10 days but, because of the amount of money involved, Diane decided to hang onto it. For five months, the wallet sat in the lost and found safe.

“I don’t know what it was about this wallet,” Diane said later. “I had to keep trying. It was a lot of money for anyone to lose, and I just wasn’t ready to give up.”

On Thursday, Diane was closing out old lost and found items, and once again came across the brown leather wallet.

“Remember this?” she asked me sadly. “It’s Herman Reed’s wallet with the $314. We never got a response back from him.”

Reed2

“Maybe there’s something we missed the first time?” I suggested.

Flipping through the wallet, I pulled out a health insurance card. “I wonder if we contacted his healthcare provider if they would be willing to pass a message on to him?”

She grinned, “Hey, it couldn’t hurt.”

After a quick conversation with a helpful health care representative, Diane received a call back from a very surprised Herman Reed, who immediately made arrangements to come by the office.

When we met in in the lobby later that morning, Herman couldn’t stop smiling. He ran over and gave Diane a huge hug thanking her over and over again for not giving up on him. The two laughed like old friends.

“We try to do everything we can to get lost items back to the owners,” she told him. “But this was a challenge.”

“I’d given up on ever getting it back,” he told her. “That was my rent money in the wallet. And here’s another strange thing. After I lost my wallet, I switched to a cheaper phone plan and had my old cell phone turned off.

“Just a few days ago, the phone suddenly came on again for some reason. I have no idea why. I wasn’t paying for it.”

“That was the number they called you on?” asked Diane.

“Yes!” Herman said. “I couldn’t believe it! It was such a blessing. In fact, I had been going to take it in to the store earlier this week to make sure they deactivated again, but something made me decide to wait until the weekend. Somebody must have been watching over me.”

He laughed and gave us both another hug. “You two are my favorites! I love Omnitrans! You don’t know what this means to me.”

Watching Herman walk out the door with a big smile on his face made our day.

– Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

Employee of the Year Mae Sung

Mae head shotIt’s unusual for an employee to be adept in each of the varied roles and processes in her department. That’s what makes Omnitrans Employee of the Year Mae Sung such an asset to the agency.

As Accounting Manager, Mae Sung is responsible for the direct supervision of payroll, accounts payable, accounts receivable, cash receipts, and general accounting personnel.  This is no easy task, as it requires her to be highly knowledgeable in each area in order to resolve problems as they occur.

When scheduled and unscheduled absences arise, Mae is able to seamlessly step in to cover that position as well as perform her own duties. She is a friend and mentor to members of her team, always making herself available to assist them as needed. She believes that every task, no matter how small, is important in ensuring the success of her department, and she honors each person as an indispensable part of that process. Thanks to the diligence of the finance team, Omnitrans passed its 2015 financial audit entirely without error!

Mae desk

However, the area of responsibility where Mae truly excels is cash management. Omnitrans collects revenues from numerous sources in cash, checks, and wire transfers on a daily basis.  Additionally there are weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly disbursements to employees and vendors by checks, direct deposits, and wire transfers.  Mae ensures the checking account balance is sufficient to cover all of the agency’s obligations when they are due.

Finally, Mae has been key in the compilation of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, which has earned the agency  awards for excellence in financial reporting seven years in a row.

Omnitrans is proud to commend Mae as Employee of the Year. We thank her for her extraordinary commitment to the advancement of our agency.

Mae Sung Proof II - 2.1.2016

 

 

Frank Flores does whatever it takes for customers

dumpsterdiving

Warranty Coordinator and Employee of the Quarter Frank Flores “dumpster dives” in a scrap metal bin while Materials Supervisor Rick Barone looks on.

Omnitrans Warranty Coordinator Frank Flores loves a challenge. From dumpster diving in scrap metal bins to researching manufacturer warranties, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to turn old metal parts into dollar signs. Thanks to his diligence and dedication, Omnitrans has recovered more than $307,000 in warranty claims in the last fiscal year!

When Frank was promoted from Parts Clerk to Warranty Coordinator three years ago, he was up against some heavy competition for the position. His strong analytic skills and systematic approach to claims and recovery made him stand out as a contender.

“Frank is a problem-solver,” explains Materials Manager Rick Barone. “He’s very proactive in finding new and better ways of doing things that benefits everyone. He’s also not afraid to get his hands dirty. I’ve even caught him dumpster diving for parts in the scrap metal bins.”

Omnitrans Employee of the Quarter Frank Flores

From left to right: Omnitrans Board Chair Sam Spagnolo, Frank Flores, Procurement Director Jennifer Sims, CEO & GM P. Scott Graham

“Thanks,” Frank laughs and adds “I only dumpster dive at work. It’s actually not a hobby. I basically search through the bins to see if I can find anything that might still be covered under a manufacturer’s warranty. The mechanics know when the warranty on a vehicle has expired, but they may not know that a specific component is still warrantied by the manufacturer.”

“He also incredibly organized and keeps impeccable records,” Rick points out. “A lot of guys in his position have extensive knowledge in their heads, but they’re not great at documenting information and communicating it to others. Frank does it all.”

Procurement Director Jennifer Sims agrees. “Frank has brought a level of analytics to the process that Omnitrans has never had before. He provides a very different systematic approach to how we handle claims and recovery.

forklift group

“For example, Frank developed a special tagging system. Now instead of parts just being tossed into a warranty bin, each item is tagged by the mechanic with as much information as they know. This makes it much easier to research where we ordered it from, how long we’ve had it, and if there is any warranty left. Frank’s been very instrumental not only in improving communication between the mechanics and the procurement team, but also in developing tools within SAP that allow us to track that warranty information. This helps automate the process and makes it easier for the mechanics.”

Frank credits his coworkers for making the process work. “It really is a team effort, and I appreciate everything they do. And the mechanics—they’re a great bunch of guys. I wouldn’t be able to do my job without them. They’ll even double-check a part for me to see if it’s still viable and something we can clean up and reuse.”

“When you look at the volume of claims that Frank is recovering,” Sims points out. “It’s more than double what we were able to do in the past. When budgets are tight, he’s actually saving job positions by maximizing our resources.”

frank and rick

“It feels good to know that what you do has that kind of impact,” says Frank. “It makes you want to do all you can. That’s why I don’t have a problem reaching into a dumpster.”

An eight-year veteran with Omnitrans, he tells us he plans to stay with the agency until he retires.

“Prior to working here, I was a manager at Auto Zone. I love helping people, and they appreciate it. You can see it in people’s faces. But I didn’t feel I could run a business the way I wanted to. Here I feel I have more ownership in it.  I am so thankful that I came to Omnitrans. I enjoy what I do, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I work with great departments and a great staff down here. I never dread coming to work.

“I like the consistency,” he explains. “I’d like to think that if someone came in and worked along beside me that the process would be very clear. For example, one of the things I’ve always said is that if your boss wants something turned in by Tuesday, you turn it in on Monday.  If they want to know what has the highest rate of recovery, I can be that quick in turning in numbers.

Omnitrans Employee of the Quarter Frank Flores

Employee of the Quarter Frank Flores and his proud family

“I also like the fact that I’m often working with the manufacturers now instead of just going through the vendor. By going direct, I’m able to skip the middle-man and build up direct relationships with the manufacturers. Not only does it help our recovery process, it’s been beneficial to them as well. If a part is consistently having problems, we’re able to demonstrate that to them. That helps them identify the issue and make improvements.”

But what means the most to Frank is the impact his work has on Omnitrans riders.

“I recognize most of the coach numbers when I see them on the street,” he says. “And it feels good to realize that that I have played a part in keeping that vehicle on the road. All of us are working together as a team to make sure those passengers aren’t stranded. That’s the most important thing. That’s why we do what we do.”

 – Juno Kughler Carlson
  juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

Bus-Master-white-background

Million Mile Coach Operators Honored

Omnitrans Million Mile Drivers

Left to right:Million Mile Club Honorees Kenneth Brantley, Larry Pollard, Enedina Casillas, Joe Armenta, Marco Pacheco, Larry Day, John Barnett

This month, the Omnitrans Million Mile Club welcomed nine new 1 Million Mile drivers and three 2 Million Mile drivers into its ranks. These dedicated coach operators have achieved the prestigious 1 million mile mark by logging 25,000 driving hours without a preventable accident. It’s the equivalent of driving to the moon and back–twice!

The coach operators were honored in a special awards ceremony at the Omnitrans Board of Directors meeting on March 5th. Each received a presentation certificate and a check for $500.

Omnitrans Million Mile Safe Driving Award

Omnitrans CEO P. Scott Graham, Board Chair Allan Wapner and Operations Director Diane Caldera present Million Mile Club honorees with certificates of achievement.

“This particular group not only has an exemplary safety record, they are also very customer service oriented,” says Transportation Manager John Steffon. “Their kindness, professionalism, courteousness and concern for others have earned them numerous commendations from our passengers.”

Our gratitude and congratulations go out to each of these exceptional coach operators who set the Omnitrans standard for safety and excellence:

Two Million Mile Drivers

  • John Barnett
  • LaMorris Hall
  • Marco Pacheco

One Million Mile Drivers

  • Joe Armenta
  • Kenneth Brantley
  • Enedina Casillas
  • William Collins
  • Larry Day
  • Ronda Downton
  • Glenn Licher
  • Michael Mayo
  • Larry Pollard

For more photos of our Million Mile honorees, visit us on Flickr.

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Coach operator grads hit the road

Back row left to right: Cassandra Henderson, John Parham, Dennis Elton, Mark Newton. Front row left to right: Julie Diaz, Regina Tootle and Kenya Finnell.

Omnitrans newest student coach operators were all smiles as they celebrated their graduation today.

Three of the graduates have a transit background and came to Omnitrans from other transit agencies. Kenya Finnell formerly drove both buses and trains for LA Metro. Mark Newton was previously a coach operator for Orange County Transportation Authority, and Regina Tootle had been a coach operator for Foothill Transit.

The other four graduates were newbies to the transit industry. Dennis Elton worked in jumper rentals. Julie Diaz has worked numerous customer service positions for a variety of companies including Wells Fargo. Cassandra Henderson is a mom of two who considers this her first real job. John Parham worked for 30 years as a postal worker.

Fleet Safety & Training Instructor Charles Molloy checks in with dispatch for driving assignments for our new coach operators.

“This was a really energetic class and all of them were a pleasure to have as students,” says Fleet Safety and Training Instructor Charles Molloy. “They worked well together, cared a lot about other and always had each other’s backs. They are a great addition to our fleet.”

Welcome aboard graduates! We’re excited to have you here and wish you best of luck on your first routes.

Omnitrans Director of Operations Diane Caldera and Coach Operator Kenya Finnell

Omnitrans Director of Operations Diane Caldera and Coach Operator Julie Diaz

Omnitrans Director of Operations Diane Caldera and Coach Operator Regina Tootle

Omnitrans Director of Operations Diane Caldera and Coach Operator John Parham

Omnitrans Director of Operations Diane Caldera and Coach Operator Cassandra Henderson

Omnitrans Director of Operations Diane Caldera and Coach Operator Mark Newton

Omnitrans Director of Operations Diane Caldera and Coach Operator Dennis Elton

 

Leadership program encourages employee innovation

Six of our employees graduated from the Omnitrans Leadership Action Program (LAP) this month. During the 6-month program, each participant worked on a project of their choosing with the potential to improve a process or generate significant savings for Omnitrans. The participants thoroughly research their projects and present their findings to the executive leadership team for possible implementation. This year, the combined projects have the potential to save the agency more than $2 million per year!

Ross Hrinko: Benefits of Preventative Health & Wellness Programs
Encouraging participation in the agency’s Wellness Program, soliciting employee feedback and enhancing communication on preventative health are a few areas Ross targets as potential areas of refinement.  The introduction of “Company Nurse” services could assist employees with health issues, by making referrals or suggesting alternative treatment. This would cut back on costly and unnecessary doctor visits, while still providing valuable information and support to the patient.

Louise Acosta – Liquid Natural Gas Delivery vs. Pipeline Natural Gas
For her project, Louise investigated the pros and cons of switching from liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel delivery to pipeline natural gas. Omnitrans currently pays for the delivery of LNG fuel from a third party vendor. Natural pipeline gas would cost substantially less than LNG, but initially would require new equipment to compress the gas for our buses.

Joseph Tibita – Reorganizing Mobile Offices for Cost Reduction
Joseph’s goal was to redesign the equipment placement and storage  in our 15 Field Supervisor mobile offices for practical use and savings. By improving the positioning and layout of user interfaces and streamlining the wiring of data and power cables with a docking station, his plan eliminates the problem of lost time due to displaced equipment and slow system access, and prevents safety hazards.

Christina Diaz – Coach Simulator Acquisition & Training
Christina’s proposal to acquire a coach simulator for operator training was recently actualized. By partnering with Cal State San Bernardino in exchange for data generated by the simulator, Omnitrans was able to obtain the $70,000 simulator for free. Coaches are needed for many types of training, but pulling a coach from revenue service costs the agency approximately $90 per hour. As an added benefit, the simulator can safely mimic challenging and hazardous scenarios not easily duplicated on the road. This allows coach operators to improve their reaction times, behavioral driving, judgmental and perceptual skills. The simulator has also been successfully implemented by the Omnitrans workforce development program to introduce the public to regional coach operator careers.

Caroljo Mitcham –  CNG Conversion & Off-site Fueling of Access Fleet
Caroljo focused on the savings generated by transitioning our current Access paratransit fleet from unleaded gasoline to CNG fuel. By obtaining CNG fuel from an offsite service station, current regulatory compliance fees and tank maintenance would be eliminated and costs would be reduced.

 

Carolann Williams – Rostering Versus Cafeteria Run Bid Process
With the current cafeteria style run  bid, coach operators select and bid on the routes, shifts and days off they want. It is a lengthy process and, depending on how these are combined, can result in split days off for the coach operator. 
With rostering, off days are built into the work assignment, which  reduces the number of days the bid process takes, gives coach operators more varied work assignments to choose from, and minimizes the number of split days off.

Two directors take on expanded roles

Omnitrans Directors Wendy Williams and Marge Ewing, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

Omnitrans Directors Wendy Williams and Marge Ewing

To increase efficiency and reduce administrative expenses, Omnitrans is eliminating some management positions and consolidating some departments. Marketing and Planning will merge under the leadership of Director Wendy Williams, while Director Marjorie Ewing will steer the combined Human Resources and Safety and Regulatory Compliance departments.

This is not the first time Ewing has headed a cross-functional department. Prior to joining Omnitrans 15 years ago, she was the Manager of HR and Safety & Security for Alumax, an aluminum manufacturing company with more than 500 employees. “It’s a natural marriage of functions,” she explains. “HR works closely with safety because of workman’s comp claims and OSHA regulations. All injuries, both non-industrial and workman’s comp, have safety implications. And most security issues involve some form of employee relations, requiring investigation, discipline and prevention.”

Williams, who has 33 years of professional experience in marketing and communications, has been with Omnitrans since 1991.  She believes that merging two departments so strongly tied to the customer experience simply makes good sense. “The marketing and planning functions have worked closely together through the years, so combining the departments is a good fit. We are focused on moving the agency forward with the ultimate goal of increasing ridership by providing transit options that meet the mobility needs of the San Bernardino Valley.”

Both directors look forward to the new challenges they will be facing in the coming year.

“Our department has several critical items coming up,” said Ewing. “With the recent passage of Federal laws like MAP 21, new safety requirements are being considered nationwide which will require certification of all Safety & Security staff. As charter members of the Transit Mutual Assistance Compact (TransMac), we will also be working with transit agencies throughout southern California to establish formal agreements on how we will provide mutual assistance to each other in the event of an emergency. Other projects include process safety management, the installation of a PA system both at our facilities and at our sbX stations and establishing fare evasion protocols and training for field supervisors.”

Williams’ department will focus on five key areas for fiscal year 2015. “Our goals are to increase ridership, complete the San Bernardino Transit Center, advance the West Valley Connector Project, increase pass sales and revenue and enhance customer satisfaction,” said Williams. “It’s an ambitious list, and I feel lucky to have a seasoned team and four skilled managers who are committed to making it happen.”

– Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

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