Carolina People: Mark Stark

From engine repair to electric vehicle initiatives to telematic technology that boosts fuel efficiency, Stark and his team keep Carolina’s fleet “running and rolling and moving forward.”

Mark Stark in front of an orange shop wall hung with automotive product signs.

Mark Stark
University fleet manager
16 years at Carolina

Describe a typical day in your job.

I’m involved in most of the repairs for campus vehicles. We schedule three to five vehicles every day, and we generally have three to five vehicles that we’re already working on.

I get involved with parts ordering, offering fleet services to different groups and departments. We have a small pool here where we let people use vehicles if they need a pickup or a car. I do a lot of pricing and shopping, trying to get the best deals for the parts we use. We also have 18,000 gallons of fuel here. It’s a pretty busy place. One day we’ll be working on an electric car, and the next day we’ll be working on a 20-foot box truck, and everything in between.

I have two office assistants that help me with paperwork and billing and parts and things like that, and we have four technicians. I have a really good team. They do a fantastic job.

How does your job support Carolina?

There are 800 vehicles and 100 trailers for the campus, so we not only support with fuel, but we support with maintaining all of those. We send people emails notifying them that their oil changes are due, that their state inspections are due, things like that. We basically try to keep everything running and rolling and moving forward.

What accomplishments in your work at Carolina are you proudest of?

One of the things that I’ve been working on since 2018 was an EV project where we’d get four electric vehicles that we will loan out to people rather than them purchasing or leasing a vehicle for their department. That’s almost coming to fruition. Four or five students from the business school designed the business model. The Renewable Energy Special Projects Committee, which is a student group, is going to pay for the vehicles. It’s been a joint venture and the students really deserve the credit. I just gave them the idea, and they ran with it.

I took a three-year course to become a nationally certified fleet manager through the NAFA Fleet Management Association. I passed in 2015. It was a hard certification course with eight different disciplines. Most of it was online, so I had to make myself study. Then, to pass each discipline, I had to pass tests given by a proctor. At 55 years old, I earned my first college credits.

What inspires you every day?

I love my job. I really enjoy working here. I’m a born-again Christian, and so this is where the Lord has brought me, and I come in and I try to do a good job.

I love the people I work with. There are some serious craftsmen out here. If you need something done, they’re more than willing to jump in with you and help you. If it has a motor on it, we’ll try and fix it.

A lot of things are new. We have telematics [digital fleet management tools] on 365 of our vehicles, and we’ve been able to reduce our fuel usage by about 28,000 gallons a year. With electric vehicles growing, that’s an exciting new venture that I want to be a part of.

One of the other things that inspires me here is working with younger people. The students, especially the ones from the business school, were extremely bright. They learned a lot about what I do in my business, but I learned a lot from them, too.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I ride bicycles. I have two bikes — a mountain bike and a road bike. I rode for two hours last night after work. My wife calls herself the bicycle widow, because I try to ride about 100 miles a week. I do three rides a week if the weather permits.

And then I’m also a do-it-yourself-er, so I’m doing one of her projects, too. I’m building her a new patio, and I’m tricking out the underneath of our deck so she doesn’t have to look at it when she’s out on her patio.