The annual conference is only a few weeks away. Registration is running ahead of last year’s record conference attendance. The conference agenda promises to cover the most pressing issues in the fleet and leasing industry. While other groups may find attendance at their conferences down, AFLA continues to grow. Why?
I believe much of the success has to do with our current AFLA leadership under Mike Antich, Tom Donato and Lori Rasmussen. Mike, Tom and Lori have taken a very active role in promoting AFLA and the conference. But many others are contributing to AFLA’s continued growth.
Mark Klein and the membership committee have reached out to existing members and new members to explain the benefits of AFLA membership. Ed Pierce and the conference committee have put together an agenda that addresses the concerns of all our members in these turbulent times. Mike St. Clair and the Commercial Fleet Sounding Board keep AFLA relevant to commercial fleet managers. Our Director of Marketing, Jim Rallo has done a superb job of increasing AFLA sponsorship to a record number. Finally, the communications committee has focused on keeping members informed about the past, present and future of AFLA. In other words, AFLA’s continuing growth and success is due to a team effort by a number of people who firmly believe in the organization’s educational and networking value.
This team effort will shine at the 2009 annual conference in September. If you have registered, thank you, and I look forward to seeing you at what will be an excellent conference. If you haven’t registered, time is running out. This is a must-attend conference. Never has our industry gone through such turbulent times. Never have you been given a better opportunity to review what has happened in the past year and to plan for the coming year. If you want to be better prepared for 2010, come join us on September 9 -11, 2009 at the Arizona Biltmore.
Congratulations to the newest members of the AFLA Board of Directors! We thank these new directors for “giving back” to their Association and volunteering their time and expertise in helping to turn AFLA into the association of choice for commercial fleet management professionals! The new Board of Directors will take the reins following the annual conference.
Tom Donato, ARI - Automotive Resources International
Kevin McGrath, Fleet Street Remarketing
John Ruppert, Ford Motor Company
Russ Cass, Piemonte National Fleet
Shirley Collins, GlaxoSmithKline
Director, Fleet Management Companies
Mary Sticha, GE Capital Fleet Services
Director at Large:
Matthew P. Betz, AmeriFleet Transportation
Director At Large:
Donna Bibbo, Novo Nordisk Inc.
Mike Antich, Bobit Business Media
Executive Director Emeritus:
Ed Bobit, Bobit Business Media
John Possumato, CARS, Inc.
2009 AFLA Conference Schedule
Several scheduling changes have been made to the AFLA 2009 Conference agenda in consideration of attendees. The 2009 conference will now open Wednesday, September 9, at 3:00 pm. The golf outing, previously held on the last day of the conference, will instead take place on Thursday, the second day. These changes allow the final day to be used for travel time rather than cutting into the weekend.
Here is the schedule we've got planned for this year's conference:
Message from the President:
Use Your Membership to its Fullest
by Mike Antich, Bobit Business Media
If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to take full advantage of your AFLA membership and register for the annual conference set for Sept. 9-11 at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix.
There is no better place than the annual conference to take advantage of networking with like-minded people from throughout our industry, who are all in one place at the same time.
Now, more than ever, you have to make time to be with your peers and business partners – to see the face behind the voice or the e-mail. Our membership continues to grow very enthusiastically, and we are expecting a lot of new faces to attend our annual meeting. Networking is a core value at AFLA and here is a great opportunity to expand your business horizons.
The more you network and the more people you talk to, the more knowledge you will gain, which increases your opportunities to open new doors and create new business relationships.
Don’t miss this opportunity to support AFLA and to educate yourself. If you’re already registered, invite a friend, peer, and business partner. In a time of uncertainty, this is the last opportunity this year to attend an industry-wide fleet event to get the pulse of what’s happening in today’s market.
Guest Editorial: John Ruppert, General Manager Commercial & Government Operations, Ford Motor Company
Last month Ford Motor Company announced financial results for the second quarter and despite the severe economic environment, we continue to make significant progress toward our revitalization plan. Our business is growing stronger quarter by quarter. Ford's retail share increased to 13.1% in the second quarter, 1.4 points higher than the same period in 2008. For eight of the last nine months the retail share has been higher than the prior year period. Ford's total share increased 2 points from a year ago to 16.4%, reflecting gains in fleet share as well as the retail share.
Our commitment to leadership in fuel efficiency, quality, safety, and technology is paying dividends and being recognized by our customers, media, and third party experts. When you drive a Ford you…..
Based on the Global Quality Research System (GQRS) study, customer satisfaction with Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles has reached its highest level in the 28 year history of the study and exceeds all other full line manufacturers. By implementing strict testing practices, revising the assembly process, and evolving vehicle design we're providing your fleet with higher quality vehicles.
We are launching the new EcoBoost™ engine this summer on the 2010 Lincoln MKS, Ford Taurus SHO, and Ford Flex. EcoBoost™ will deliver up to 20% better fuel economy without compromising performance and will generate up to 15% fewer CO2 emissions compared to a larger displacement engine. EcoBoost™ will be available on the F-150 in 2010 and our strategy calls for expanding EcoBoost™ to 90% of Ford's nameplates by 2013.
With more Top Safety Picks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety than any other manufacturer, the Personal Safety System™; Advance Trac with RSC ® (Roll Stability Control™) and accident avoidance systems, we're helping make the road a safer place for your employees.
Our suite of technology features available with Ford Work Solutions™ is unmatched in the industry. It allows you to track your fleet vehicles, your tools, and run your business from your in-dash computer. You will have access to vehicle data including location, speed, idle time, fuel usage, next required service and active diagnostic trouble codes.
The new 2010 Fusion and Milan mid-size sedans provide the commercial fleet industry with vehicles that have dynamic design, outstanding interior package and excellent performance. With available front wheel drive or all wheel drive, a choice of four cylinder or six cylinder powertrains, E-85 or hybrid electric capability, fleet managers can commonize their fleet while being able to meet differing demands based on climate or sustainability initiatives. We are very proud that the Ford Fusion is the most fuel efficient mid-size sedan in the market for both gasoline (up to 34 mpg hwy) and hybrid (up to 41 mpg city).
Our momentum will continue in the second half of 2009, with the arrival of the Taurus, our all new flagship sedan. The new Taurus is not only great to look at, it's great to drive. Consider all these features: Available front wheel drive or all wheel drive, safety and segment first technology including Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Warning, Intelligent Access with push-button start, MyKey™ programmability, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Cross Traffic Alert, Ford Sync® and Voice Activated Navigation with Sirius Travel Link.
We are excited about the introduction of the all new Transit Connect van. The Transit Connect is unlike any product on the market today. Offering outstanding payload, cargo carrying capabilities and excellent fuel efficiency, Transit Connect is a perfect fit for the commercial fleet market. With over 600,000 units sold since its introduction in 2003, Transit Connect has proven to be a reliable and durable product to meet the demands of the industry.
We are very proud of our new products and the progress we've made, but there has never been a more important time to maintain focus on our transformation plan. Several market factors continue to impact the automotive industry. We will work proactively with all our partners to ensure world class vehicles that our fleet customers truly want and value.
AFLA Updates Bylaws to Recognize Fleet Management Companies
The AFLA Board of Directors voted to amend the association bylaws on August 14, 2009 to change the title “Director Lessors” to “Director Fleet Management Companies” to better reflect the role of this board position and the segment of the membership that s/he represents. The board member currently serving in this director position is Mary Sticha, GE Capital Fleet Services.
Member Retrospective: Bud Morrison – AFLA’s First President
From Automotive Fleet, July 1986, "Thirty Years Selling Fleet"
M.C. (Bud) Morrison was AFLA’s first president. He was one of the most successful fleet salesmen of all time. Bud entered the industry in the early fifties with Don Allen Chevrolet in New York. Twenty years — and thousands of cars — later, he moved to Florida, where he worked as director of fleet for J.M. Pontiac, in Hollywood, Fla., the largest Pontiac dealership in the world. He sold between 10,000 and 12,000 fleet units a year. Bud passed away May 3, 1992 at his home in Hollywood, Fla., while still working at J.M. Pontiac. His career as one of the most successful fleet salesmen spanned approximately 40 years.
Below is his story, in his own words, as published in the July 1986 issue of Automotive Fleet magazine.
Back in 1957 or ’58, I made an appointment to call on T.J. Sexton, head of a Chicago-based food wholesaler called John Sexton Co., which operated a large fleet of Chevrolet cars and trucks. After catching a DC-6 and flying from New York to Midway Field in a blinding snowstorm, I was finally able to hail a Chicago cab (with chains) and rush to the appointment.
By the time I arrived at Sexton’s office for our 5 p.m. meeting, however, it was already 11 o’clock at night. Much to my surprise, Sexton was still in his office! He figured that if I’d taken the time to come all the way from New York to see him, the least he could do was wait for me. And we became very good friends.
That’s the way things seemed to happen in fleet in the old days, though. Relationships developed through trust and friendship built up over long periods of time. Agreements were made between buyer and seller because we understood each other, and we therefore did business in a very fair and affable manner.
When I first got into fleet with Don Allen Chevrolet in 1953, people were just beginning to comprehend the nature of this new field. Business was starting to evolve from salesmen-owned to company-owned fleets, and leasing was beginning to grow rapidly. While everybody had questions about leasing, few had any answers because often the only way to get answers was to plunge in and learn the hard way. So it was really a process of self-education in those days.
As the fleet and leasing market began to open up, we were in a good position because Don Allen was the largest Chevrolet store in the country, and Chevrolet was considered the fleet car. To exploit our opportunity, we just went out and made a number of calls. My territory extended from New York to Chicago, down into Dallas and Houston, and then back east again. Most all the action was east of the Mississippi River. You’d get in your automobile or catch a plane, travel to the various cities, look up the names of the companies, and try to determine the right person to talk to.
Among the first big orders I wrote were ones for Royal Insurance, Lipton Tea, and General Foods. Then we began a long association with Hertz and Avis. Later came dealings with such firms as General Electric, Westinghouse, PPG, Wrigley Chewing Gum, Armour, and GTE.
Back in those days, fleets were buying mostly on a local basis. Procedures like drop-shipment were unheard of. So in the beginning—with new Chevys selling for around $1,000—we sold in the neighborhood of 500-800 units a year; those were considered substantial numbers. By the late fifties and sixties though, we were topping 15,000 sales annually.
Newly-elected officers of the Automotive Fleet and Leasing Association pose in Toronto, Canada, after the formation of the association in 1969. New officers (l. to r.) were M.C. (Bud) Morrison, president; E. Woody Woodard, second vice president; Mark Rosenstock, third vice president; Don Fenton, executive vice president, and Jack Rosenbaum, first vice president.
Early on, fleet dealers would compete for business with each other on a bid basis. It wasn’t a cut-and-dried arrangement, where you had a pre-agreed contract. And you had to be very active in appraising used cars, since used units typically would be turned in as trades with each new vehicle. The standard discount on new cars was around 10 percent from list; there wasn’t the discount structure for fleet back then that we know today.
The business is different these days, all right. There’s more wisdom and knowledge involved, and the volumes are larger and there’s so much more computerization. I think fleet might have been a little more fun in the old days, though, in that you were awfully close to everything. Now it’s more difficult to maintain the close associations. Loyalties are still strong, but today there’s just so much more competition.
One story illustrating the spirit of the early years involves an initial meeting of the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association at New York’s Park Sheraton Hotel. Fourteen or 15 of us were sitting around the hotel room on that occasion when Mark Rosenstock suddenly knocked on the door. The bell captain announced that someone was outside who wanted to join our new group. “Does he have $100?” one of us asked with a laugh. Rosenstock did, so we let him into the organization.
We used the C-note to buy everybody lunch.
AFLA Member Profile: Debbie Mize, Hallmark Cards
AFLA Offers Industry Knowledge/Networking to Long-Time Member
As a 32-year fleet veteran, Debbie Mize knows the importance of keeping up to date on industry changes and trends. In fact, this is one of the main reasons she joined AFLA more than 15 years ago.
“Keeping abreast of the industry and incorporating advantageous changes in my fleet is very important,” she said.
Mize, who is the corporate services manager, Fleet & Relocations for Hallmark Cards in Kansas City, Missouri, also knows the importance of learning through peer networking and job-related educational opportunities.
“Member networking, continued education at conferences and with white papers, keeping abreast of industry news, and access to industry leaders are key benefits of AFLA,” she said.
Mize, who has national board assignments and positions for both NAFA and AFLA, assumed a fleet manager position at Hallmark 22 years ago and inherited Corporate Relocations 10 years ago as an additional responsibility.
“Currently, I oversee North American fleet operation, including purchasing, used-vehicle remarketing, maintenance management, accident management, personal use, motor pool, and ridesharing,” she said. “And I also oversee both domestic and international relocations for Hallmark and subsidiaries.”
Mize helps manage a staff of four and more than 900 vehicles that comprise a mostly sales fleet of passenger vehicles (Ford and Chrysler). The fleet also includes a small number of executive, vanpool, and miscellaneous plant vehicles.
Hallmark Cards, Inc. has helped people connect with one another for nearly 100 years. Best known for its greeting cards, the company’s products also include paper party supplies, gifts, and wrapping paper; ornaments and decorative items for the home; memory-keeping picture frames, albums, and scrapbooks; e-cards and customized photo cards; and even a cable television channel. A true success story, Hallmark has grown from two shoeboxes of postcards into a $4.3 billion company, whose products can be found in 100 countries around the world and in more than 41,500 stores in the United States alone.
AFLA Membership Benefits the Member and Their Organization
When asked to describe the ultimate importance of being an ALFA member to her and her company, Mize explained that the strength of educational programs and the expertise and professionalism of members are probably the two most important components to the association’s value.
“The educational content is excellent, especially for the experienced fleet manager, and the networking has been very valuable,” Mize said. “Networking in an organization the size of AFLA works so well — there are actually opportunities to visit with most attendees rather than having a huge overwhelming number where this is not possible. Being able to benchmark other fleet operations and practices as well as vendor contacts has been great.”
In fact, Mize’s AFLA membership has directly impacted her company and its fleet on many occasions over the years through the formation of valuable partnerships and benchmarking.
“I am responsible for the remarketing of my used vehicles and have been able to develop business relationships with several AFLA members who have performed very well,” she added. “And panels on fleet topics give us a basis to see we’re measuring up, as well as ideas on what has worked for others that we may not have tried.”
And while Mize cites networking, education, and access to leaders in our industry as the primary benefits of being an AFLA member, she says that AFLA’s annual conference is a must-attend event. Mize herself has attended for more than 20 years.
“The annual conference is a fantastic opportunity and is very value-priced,” she said. “I continue to learn and network with the best in our industry. The format of one agenda with no breakout sessions works so well, and there are plenty of opportunities throughout."
Help Promote the AFLA Conference: Here’s Some Ammunition – Use It!
AFLA=ROI The 2009 AFLA conference team has assembled an impressive array of industry experts to address the real-world issues confronting senior management during these tumultuous and unprecedented times. This represents true ROI for your company!
Check out our archived section of member-only White Papers online in the Resource Library at www.aflaonline.com. Some of these great topics include:
Facing Rising Reimbursement Costs: How Company Vehicle Programs Help Businesses Run on All Cylinders
The Impact of Electronic Toll Collection on Fleet Managers and Leasing Companies
The Business Case for Full Compliance: "Best Practices" Performance at Lower Cost
Automotive Upstream Marketing
Pricing in Volatile and Unpredictable Markets
Personal Use Charge
Fuel Consumption Challenges and Solutions for North American Fleet Vehicle Operations
Greening Your Fleet
And many more!
To keep the AFLA Whitepaper Series as an important benefit, we invite your contribution of material for publication. To learn more about how you can participate in the AFLA White Paper Series, contact Paul Hanscom at email@example.com.
A journey through yesteryear illustrated by photos of memorable events captured at past AFLA conferences and remembrances of legendary members who are no longer with us, but who will never be forgotten.
As the advanced forum for commercial fleet professionals to network with industry leadership, we proudly welcome the following new members who have become a part of AFLA:
Advanced Driver Training Services
General Truck Body Mfg. Co.
Nationwide Insurance Co.
Union Leasing, Inc.
Reading Fleet Services
Flexco Fleet Services
Beckman Coulter, Inc
Transport Solutions of America
ATS Processing Services
What Was Your First Car?
by Mary Sticha, GE Capital Solutions Fleet Services
Isn’t she a beauty? Doesn’t she bring back fond memories of Smokey and the Bandit? Yes, my first car was a 1979 Pontiac TransAm! I loved that car! I had gotten a full time job right out of High School and could finally afford a car.
I loved the look of the TransAm, so I went to the nearest Pontiac dealership. They did not have any in stock, so I factory ordered a new one. I hadn’t even driven one…just knew I had to have one! My car was delivered 7 weeks later. Black exterior and interior; T-top; eagle on the hood; 6.6 liter 403 horsepower…I was HOT or so I thought (and my car was cool too!).
This car made me very poor with car payments, insurance, and gas, but I have never regretted the investment and would do it all over again. I parted with it after 3 fun filled fast years and got back nearly what I paid for it. I wish now I had kept it!!