Automotive Fleet

JAN 2014

Magazine for the car and truck fleet and leasing industry

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WHEELSCelebrates Its 75 Anniversary th The history of Wheels is intertwined with the history of the commercial feet profession. The founding of Wheels in 1939 is widely acknowledged as the birth of the commercial feet industry. BY MIKE ANTICH AND LAUREN FLETCHER I n 1939, Wheels became the frst automobile leasing and management company in the U.S. when it leased 75 vehicles to Petrolager, a pharmaceutical company. Since then, the family-owned business has grown to encompass sales approaching $3 billion per year, with nearly 300,000 vehicles on the road in North America, and more than 1 million vehicles in 41 countries around the world. Te company was started by Zollie Frank and his brother-in-law Amund Schoen. In 1974, Jim Frank, the son of Zollie Frank, became the second president of Wheels. In 1999, he was joined by his son, Dan Frank. To learn more about the history of Wheels, its accomplishments, and its goals for the future, Automotive Fleet interviewed Jim Frank, CEO and president of Wheels, and separately Dan Frank, president of Wheels Services and CTO. Te following are excerpts from both interviews: 1939 Wheels becomes frst automobile leasing and management company in the U.S., founded by Zollie Frank (right) and Amund Schoen. Jim Frank Looks Back… AF: Congratulations on your 75th anniversary. As the frst feet company to reach this milestone, you have the perspective of seeing how the industry has evolved from its inception to present. What are the top milestones that helped shape the feet industry by decade, starting with the 1950s to present? J. FRANK: It starts even before the 1950s: ➜ 1930s: Te feet leasing and man- agement industry is founded when Wheels Inc. leased 75 vehicles to Petrolager at an all-in (everything included except gasoline and oil) fxed price of $45 per month and a 12-month replacement. ➜ 1940s: No new vehicles were produced during the World War II years and Wheels demonstrated the fexibility and creativity 1948 Institutes a system where drivers obtain replacement tires through local outlets of national tire companies — a precursor to its maintenance network. 1954 Introduces courtesy delivery method of vehicle distribution. 28 AUTOMOTIVE FLEET I JANUARY 2014 1958 First FMC to offer truck engineering. 1959 Introduces concept of providing each client with a single pointof-contact, precursor to account executives. In 1974, Jim Frank (left), the son of Zollie Frank, became the second president of Wheels. In 1999, he was joined by his son, Dan Frank (right). for which the industry had become famous by purchasing used vehicles and providing creative solutions to maintaining existing vehicles for clients. Afer the war, feet allocation and close factory relationships, carefully nurtured, allowed Wheels to obtain new vehicles for clients who were anxious to ramp up peace-time operations. ➜ 1950s: Working with the OEMs, Wheels developed the new concept of dropshipping feet vehicles. Tis innovation replaced regional purchasing and over-theroad deliveries, ultimately laying the ground work for the most cost-efcient and highestquality method of vehicle procurement any- 1960 Develops frst version of computerized vehicle ordering. 1969 Introduces computerization into feet with IBM 1402 and random disc storage.

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