The tale of the Jeeps

When a company adds new vehicles to its fleet, it’s usually a straightforward, routine transaction. Louisville Water’s recent purchase of five Jeeps, however, involved unexpected production problems, resourceful employees looking for outside-the-box solutions, a well-stocked dealership in Illinois, a highly specialized Facebook group, and a wife who just happens to be a Jeep fan.

The tale begins with Louisville Water ordering six Jeeps with right-hand-side steering wheels in October 2020. The order was placed with the company’s regular vehicle contractor, and delivery was expected in March of this year.

“Then the contractor told us he was having a hard time getting Chrysler to make the vehicles,” said Mark Hall, Director of Meter & Billing Services. “Production pushed the delivery to July 2021.”

But as July approached, the contractor said he would no longer be able to get any right-handed Jeeps at all.

Two Metering Specialists, Eric Jameson and Billy Upton, decided to try to find the vehicles themselves. They did some online research without much luck, but Upton’s wife, Stephanie, belongs to a Facebook group for women who are Jeep fans.

Billy asked Stephanie to post a message in the group to see if any of the members knew where they could find right-handed Jeeps.

“She got a reply in about 10 minutes,” Upton said.

The Facebook friend said several of the Jeeps were available at a dealership in Illinois. Upton called to confirm and found out the dealer had 15 of them on the lot.

Upton was getting ready to go on vacation, so he passed the information along to Jameson, who passed it on to Hall, who reached out to Wayne Dunn, One Water Fleet Services Administrator, and Bill Malcolm, One Water Fleet Services Manager. They “found a way to facilitate the purchase,” Hall said, and Louisville Water ultimately received five of the Jeeps.

“They were the wrong colors, but we can deal with that,” Hall added. “The important thing is we found a way to get the Jeeps we need by listening to our employees and working outside the box.”

A red Jeep the company received is being wrapped in white, but a blue one and three gray ones will remain those colors.

“We will soon have some new cool colors cruising the streets of Louisville,” Hall said. “I’m not sure we would have gone down this path if not for our two meter readers caring and helping us find a solution — and kudos to Wayne and Bill for working with us to find a way to make it happen.”