Automotive Fleet Supplements

AFLA SPIRIT 2013

Magazine for the car and truck fleet and leasing industry

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AFLA History improved mileage and driveability) and unleaded fuel. Among the featured speakers was the Illinois Secretary of State, who discussed highway safety. Attendees also flled out condition reports and auctioned of a car for $2,345. Pierce Walsh was president of AFLA from 1975 to 1976, and recalls that this period of the Association was shaky. "Ed Bobit and I spent a lot of time holding the group together," WALSH he said. Walsh remembers a successful efort to bring more corporate people into AFLA, and convincing women in the group to become more active. "Te Year to Come Alive" was the theme in 1975, with a meeting in Montreal to discuss model selection, car-buying groups, and fnancial aspects for feets. Membership increased about 20 percent over the prior year's meeting (from 112 to 136), and some light was shed on what was happening in the Canadian automobile industry. Te eighth annual meeting saw 250 attendees, and was considered by many to be the most comprehensive annual meeting the group had held since its inception in 1969. Te group met to seek new and imaginative answers to such questions as the availability of energy supplies, cost of government regulations, and the development of meaningful highway safety programs. Panelists "probed the future" with a session entitled, "Today and Tomorrow for the Big Car," in which the group predicted that as the standard-sized vehicles of the day were found in shorter supply on the usedcar market, their values would rise dramatically. A now of-quoted truism was coined at this conference by James Ingel, then feet operations manager for Economics Laboratory, who stated, "Fleet managers don't make new cars, they manufacture used cars." In 1977, attendance stayed strong with 250 attendees at the fall meeting, and the group continued to search for innovative ways to provide new levels of service to feet managers. Odometer law enforcement was one of the key topics, as well as pending usedcar disclosure regulations. "Back in the late 1970s, AFLA was dealer heavy with very few feet managers who ac42 tually controlled or efectively infuenced the what, where, and when of vehicle purchases," according to Don Kolb, AFLA president from 1982 to 1983. "Most feet managers were KOLB a bit leery of AFLA because of never actually participating in vehicle acquisitions. In general, the feet managers typically dealt with one or two leasing companies who controlled where the vehicles for their clients' feets were purchased." At this time in the industry, according to Kolb, only a few leasing companies owned or were closely aligned with a dealer that "drop-shipped" vehicles. "Most leasing entities tried to purchase locally where the vehicle was to be delivered," Kolb said. "Te AFLA dealer members made up the core of a dealer network for leasing companies to buy from. Te Fentons and Milos' were ahead of their time in developing and executing via a dealer dropship network. Tis approach to the business was not well understood outside a small cadre of factory people and a few dealers." Tis is when George Weimer, George Largay, and Kolb met. "We were three major buyers of vehicles, Weimer at Contel, Largay at National Car Leasing, and me at McDonald's Corp. We each had a fairly high level of visibility within NAFA and with feet managers across the country. We, as a group, decided that the AFLA conference needed more feet manager panels and speakers." According to Kolb, the process was successful in attracting a broader base of feet managers and it was accomplished by bringing in speakers from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Transportation (DOT), and industry pundits such as Mary Ann Keller. "No other auto conference at the time offered information on a broader base of feet/ automotive subjects from nationally known experts. Judging by today's standards, our effort was meager, but successful," Kolb said. "Tis efort was not accomplished without some serious resistance from more senior AFLA people. We were spending money to hire quality speakers, and to pay travel costs for government folks. As we progressed to my term, the path was made easier because AUTOMOTIVE FLEET & LEASING ASSOCIATION ANNUAL REVIEW 2013 of prior successes. Te folks who followed, for the most part, continued to raise the bar and, I believe, that concept still holds to this day." Economic uncertainty and a record turnout marked the 1980 spring meeting, with more than 260 attendees. A concern over skyrocketing interest rates dominated discussions during both networking time and formal sessions. George Largay was the Association's president from 1981 to 1982. During his tenure as president of the Association, he increased the use of paid LARGAY outside "expert" speakers who could help broaden perspectives and add additional context and insight beyond just the industry. "Up until that point, AFLA had almost exclusively used people within the industry as presenters and panelists," Largay recalled. "My initial eforts in this area started with the planning of the Fall 1980 meeting, where we were able to secure Bob Dederick, chief economist of the Northern Trust Bank in Chicago as a presenter." Te 13th Annual Meeting, held in 1981, continued the trend of record turnouts. Issues discussed followed the conference theme, "Back to the Basics." Te opening speech by Fran Hazleroth, then director of sales for Chrysler Corp., informed attendees that the manufacturers were getting back to the basics of fuel economy, value, and quality to improve and market their products. "As a result of the gas crisis," he said, "buying habits changed immediately." Te Association's founders and past presidents were also honored. According to Largay, "For the 1981 annual meeting in Toronto, we probably went a bit overboard with a white three-ring binder with the 'Back to Basics' theme on the cover, and tabbed sections for each presenter with bios and room for notes." Te intent was for attendees to take it back to their workplace to share with their colleagues, show to their boss, etc. Maturing and Coalescing: 1984-1993 Te decade between 1984 and 1993 included the loss of a feet veteran Sam Lee, re-

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