When Kitchell Fleet Services Manager Aaron Brown started working on Kitchell-owned vehicles almost 20 years ago, he wondered if he made a mistake. He would pull his tool box in and out of a Conex storage container and work on cars with nothing more than a lean-to and a slab of concrete, located at the Kitchell yard. He even had to shield his eyes when a strong wind came through so he wouldn’t get dust in his eyes. But as former Kitchell Contractors President Mark Pendleton said: “working for Kitchell is an investment in your future,” and Aaron believed in it.
Soon, Aaron was able to add a lift, using a generator to operate it. A cover for the concrete slab was built from leftover building materials, and two bays were added. In 2003, Kitchell Fleet Services as an official division came to be. And Aaron’s faith in Mark Pendleton’s wise words stood strong.
Today, that humble lean-to has grown into six bays maintaining not only Kitchell’s fleet of vehicles, but also fleets owned by other major local companies. This year, Kitchell Fleet Services marks its 15th year as a subsidiary of Kitchell.
“It’s a pretty cool accomplishment,” he said. “The only way we can grow and retain customers is through respect and trust, and building business the right way.”
Kitchell has always touted a family atmosphere, and the Fleet Services team is a testament to this. Aaron and 15-year Employee-Owner Steve Crea (Kitchell Equipment Manager) have known each other since the 6thgrade and grew up in Tempe, today working just a few feet from each with Steve housed at the adjacent Kitchell yard. Fleet Services Assistant Manager Ryan Devinny (who recently marked his 10-year anniversary with Kitchell) also grew up in the East Valley and went to Dobson High School.
Fleet Services’ nine dedicated employees collectively bring 90 years of Kitchell experience: Joining Aaron and Ryan are Technicians Bruce Brumbaugh (14 years), Derek Huggins (13 years), Eric Gonzalez (12 years), Mark O’Connor (6 years), Brian Smith (6 years), Justin Derichsweiler (5 years) and Administrative Assistant Tom Brzozowski (4 years).
Kitchell’s fleet represents about 15 percent of the Division’s work, with 65 percent of its business from companies that have come through referrals: Tolin Mechanical, George Brazil, Kearney Electric, Hernandez Companies, Ewing Irrigation and DP Air, among others. The remaining 15 percent of its business is from maintaining personally owned vehicles.
“The bulk of our customers have been with us for 10-plus years,” said Aaron.
A point of pride is Kitchell Fleet Services’ strong reputation in DemandForce, a customer relationship management tool commonly used by the auto industry. Kitchell has 500-plus reviews with five-star ratings. And although the team mostly serves commercial customers, their reviews on consumer-facing review sites including Yelp and Google are also stellar:
This is the ONLY auto shop I want working on my vehicles, period. They are honest, trustworthy, and not looking for a sale. They will show you the problem, explain it, and even give you options to save money on how to fix it. They are up front and talk to you like a normal person. I’ve had three vehicles there over the 10 years I’ve been taking my ride to them and recommend them to anyone who wants good honest service.
“All you have in this business is your name and your integrity, and we are committed to earning business,” Aaron said. “Because if you care about Kitchell, Kitchell cares about you.”
3752 E. Anne Street
Phoenix, AZ 85040