Arsenault celebrates 30 years of maintenance management

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Arsenault Associates is marking its 30th year in business serving the fleet management industry. The Burlington, N.J.-based company was founded in 1979 by leasing and maintenance expert Charles Arsenault with $100 in capital and a typewriter.

Beginning as a maintenance and leasing consulting company, Arsenault says it grew to be the industry-leading provider of Dossier fleet maintenance management software and related technology solutions, serving more than 4,000 fleets that operate more than a half million pieces of equipment.

“We’re extremely proud of Dossier and its reputation in the industry, the result of Charlie’s great work over three decades,” says Jack Boetefuer, president of Arsenault Associates. “This is an exciting year for us — economic challenges notwithstanding. In fact, sales are strong as fleets see intelligent maintenance management as a way to meet reduced budgets.”

In the beginning, Charles Arsenault helped private fleet operators assess equipment needs, negotiate leases and manage maintenance. Arsenault remains chief executive officer of the company he founded. Although the company did not start out as a software developer, it soon became one.

Shortly after the company’s 1979 launch, Arsenault recalled, an employee approached him with a college computer science project. Arsenault sponsored the effort that was required to address a specific business challenge for college credit, and in return got to pose the problem: how to perform the complex and time-consuming calculations involved in leasing decisions.

Working with an early desktop computer “with 64 kilobytes of memory, two huge floppy disk drives, and an impact printer that shook the room,” Arsenault recalled, the students met the challenge. “The computer did the analytical work of weeks in a matter of minutes, and a light bulb came on,” he says.

Arsenault bought computer time and began offering a service to fleet customers, providing data entry services as well as analysis. The company built a roster of clients before offering its first off-the-shelf maintenance management software, Maintenance Magic, in 1987.

As personal computers permeated virtually all aspects of business, Arsenault software development accelerated. The company changed its software product name to Dossier and began advertising in industry publications. Sales quickly expanded, and Arsenault plowed the revenue back into software and new product development.

Since those early days, Arsenault Associates says it has introduced many “firsts” to the industry, including:

  • America Fleet Online (AFOL), a Windows-based bulletin board system dedicated to the surface transportation industry. Bulletin boards served as online gathering places and information resources prior to the World Wide Web on the Internet;
  • 24/7 Fleet Online, an ASP (Application Service Provider) that enabled fleets to run the full version of the Dossier fleet software over the Internet;
  • Pocket Dossier, a wireless handheld barcode- and RFID-enabled application built for off-the-shelf PDAs;
  • Dossier’s automated fleet benchmark system to help establish a fleet’s internal operational and cost statistics and standards;
  • Dossier technology to eliminate redundant data entry of recurring work;
  • PM service forecasting based on the fleet’s historic utilization on a per-unit basis;
  • Definable, automated data import of external service vendors’ invoices; and
  • Dossier Automated Tire Management System, a way to manage tires as individual assets.
  • “This is a wonderful moment on a long journey,” Arsenault says. “I’m proud of our people and what we have been able to build. But maintenance in general remains underappreciated, underfunded and little understood. We still have a long way to go.”