Even though gas prices are the lowest they’ve been in more than five years, companies in charge of vehicle fleets are constantly trying to cut down on fuel costs.
One of the most effective tools are GPS monitoring services, which can track their trucks and vans in real time and ensure drivers are staying on route and being fuel efficient. San Marcos-based RMJ Technologies has been supplying those systems, along with cameras and other devices, since 2006, carving out a niche serving public agencies.
“When fuel prices are higher, it’s easier,” CEO Jerome Toliver admitted. “But fuel’s still not free.”
The GPS devices, made by San Diego-based Verizon Networkfleet, OmniTRAX and Geotab, let employers monitor drivers’ paths, speed and even how hard they’re making turns. All of that data can be used to increase fuel efficiency. Even more important, Toliver said, is the boost it can create for worker productivity.
“Some folks don’t want to take another call 15 minutes prior to their shift ending, so they drive in circles around the yard, because they don’t want to be shown keyed off,” he said.
Go With the Flow
Toliver founded the company with partner Mauricio Berber after investing in a neighbor’s business installing and repairing two-way radios. Toliver and Berber helped secure sales and eventually landed an account with Burrtec, a disposal company in Palm Desert. Around the time the neighbor decided to leave the business, GPS device maker TomTom contacted Toliver and Berber as part of TomTom’s outreach to companies already selling equipment to vehicle fleets.
RMJ, a certified minority-owned business by the California Public Utilities Commission, quickly got its start by pitching the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on the advantages of GPS tracking and won a bid contract. RMJ then piggybacked the contract to smaller municipal agencies that were part of MWD, such as Eastern Municipal Water District, and then to individual cities underneath those smaller agencies. It also became the preferred telematics provider for the Association of California Water Agencies.
“We followed the water,” Toliver said. “Anytime we find ourselves in a new market, we do it all over again.”
RMJ’s clients include the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, San Diego County Regional Water Authority and the City of Winston-Salem, along with agencies and companies in Florida, Alabama and Chicago.
While RMJ has found success so far, Toliver is aware that as a reseller, he needs to add something clients can’t get by just reaching out to manufacturers directly. So far that has been installation and education.
“Being a reseller puts us in a very vulnerable position because we don’t own any of the technology,” Toliver said. “If anyone decides they no longer want their indirect channel, then that could in essence shut us down.”
Compounding the problem is the movement to include back-up sensors, vehicle cameras and GPS devices standard in many fleet vehicles, meaning eventually RMJ’s clients won’t have any more need for after-market products. To stay competitive, RMJ is developing software, due out in July, that will automate and personalize relevant driver training. The video-based training itself isn’t proprietary, but RMJ’s software will tailor lessons based on drivers’ skill gaps.
Many companies don’t properly manage information they have on drivers’ deficiencies, leaving them potentially liable if an accident occurs, according to Toliver, because they may have failed to take proper action to improve their drivers’ abilities.
“It’s going to eliminate what has been willful negligence on behalf of the end user,” Toliver said. “They know who their poor drivers are, and if they ignore that and something happens, they’re on the hook.”
RMJ will offer lessons on speed control, hard-braking and distracted driving, among other topics, Toliver said, and charge clients a subscription fee.
CEO: Jerome Toliver
Revenue: About $3 million
No. of local employees: Six
Headquarters: San Marcos
Year founded: 2006
Company description: GPS tracking and vehicle camera supplier to trucking fleets, with a strong client base of public agencies.