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Tuesday, May 30, 2006 

Vol. 2 No. 21

NAFA Conference 2006: Part II
“A World of Possibilities – Inspiring Excellence”

“A World of Possibilities – Inspiring Excellence” was the theme of the 2006 National Association of Fleet Administrators (NAFA) annual conference May 6-9th at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, and, once again it didn’t disappoint. Led by NAFA president Charles A. Gibbens, Fleet Manager for the County of Henrico, Virginia, it was quite an event, kicked off by keynote speaker, columnist, humorist and Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Barry.

NAFA, with 90 hours of fleet education and professional development seminars, offers more education than any other fleet conference. The convention floor is pretty full as well, with 225 exhibitors. And as usual, there were numerous nighttime events for networking and socializing (and we, of course, added our own little party to the mix).

So You Want to Know Something about Fleet Management?

The days were packed with seminars and workshops, with topics both specific to fleet management, such as, “Reducing the Losses of Motor Vehicle Crashes: Human, Vehicle and Environmental Factors,” to more general business topics, such as, “Strategic Operating and Business Plans.” There were seminars as specific as, “Medium and Heavy Duty Truck Technologies,” to “Canadian Truck Legislation,” to “Why is Doing Business with the Government so Confusing?” The manufacturers, General Motors, Ford, and Daimler Chrysler, all made presentations on product updates for law enforcement vehicles, and there were sector-specific workshops for corporate, utility, pharmaceutical and public service fleets, to name a few. Of course, vehicle remarketing (my favorite fleet topic) was included with a presentation entitled, “Remarketing in the 21st Century: Do You Have the Best Data, Tools, and Strategies to Minimize Depreciation?”

On the Convention floor, the official NAFA booth displayed a wide range of products and services including their new publication, “Fleet Acquisition and Disposal Guide,” crammed full of the latest remarketing information and the best resource of its kind. [Of course, I may be a bit biased here, as this publication was produced jointly with the International Automotive Remarketers Alliance (IARA), and yours truly wrote the section on Upstream Remarketing.]

The nighttime networking events at NAFA are also an educational experience, in more ways than one. As usual, the Affiliates and Manufacturers organized a great nighttime event to open NAFA, a Beach Party befitting the surroundings. NAFA hosted “Tropical Elegance,” a semi-formal closing reception and dinner (fondly referred to as the “prom”). In between, one night is always left open for the large corporate lessors to host individual receptions and dinners for their clients. This year, I was very pleased to be invited to LeasePlan USA’s special dinner event, held at SeaWorld in Orlando (see picture of invitation) where we were treated to the new show, “Believe,” and then to a special dinner where we sat right next to a pool filled with performing whales…now that was a first (at least for me).

…And there were really smart people there…

Every year at the NAFA Convention, a number of annual awards are given to the best and the brightest in the fleet industry. NAFA honors its membership with its own Larry Goill Award for Quality Fleet Management Ideas. This year Gregg Hodgdon, CAFM, Director of Fleet Operations with E.A. Sween Company, Eden Prairie, Minnesota, was a winner for his entry, “Vintage Chart Provides Long-Range Capital Planning for E.A. Sween Company.” Hodgdon developed his “vintage chart” to provide a long-range view of the amount of capital that would be needed to operate his fleet through 2015, based on current operating criteria. The creative construct also provided a spreadsheet that displayed the effects of business expansion, vehicle/box cycle times, box recycling expenses, and vehicle losses.

Automotive Fleet’s 2006 Fleet Manager of the Year: Scott Mayo

Finally, although Automotive Fleet Magazine’s Fleet Manager of the Year and Fleet Financials Magazine’s Fleet Executive of the Year awards are not part of the official NAFA schedule, it is a fact that these annual awards, always a surprise to everyone (including the recipients) until revealed at a Sunday morning brunch during NAFA, are indeed the most anticipated and revered honors in the industry. This year was no exception, as the Fleet Manager of the Year was chosen from 15 candidates, which, in turn where whittled down to four finalists before the final award recipient was selected. It should be noted that the winners of these awards are chosen by a truly esteemed panel of 33 judges including 11 past Fleet Manager of the Year winners, five manufacturer fleet manager representatives, three auto auction representatives, 10 fleet management services representatives, three auto dealer fleet representatives, and one media representative.

So, it is quite an honor, and my hat is off to Scott Mayo, Director of Fleet, Wendy’s International, Inc., Automotive Fleet’s 2006 Fleet Manager of the Year.

Scott Mayo, Director of Fleet, Wendy’s International, Inc., accepts the Fleet Manager of the Year award. From L to R: Ed Bobit, editor and publisher, Bobit Business Media (BBM); Sherb Brown, vice president and group publisher, BBM; Mayo; Dan Frank, general manager of Four Wheels; and Jim Frank, president of Wheels, Inc.

Scott manages a fleet of 1,100 vehicles, supervises a fleet staff of four and has been involved in the fleet end of the automotive business for more than 21 years. His fleet department operates like a leasing company, in managing every aspect of Wendy’s “unbundled” fleet. He operates the fleet for Wendy’s in the U.S. & Canada, the U.S. operations of Tim Hortons, and two recent acquisitions: Baja Fresh and Café Express. Scott and his team handled negotiations with ordering dealers and manufacturers, and are responsible structuring and implementing all services for Wendy’s drivers, including maintenance and fuel programs. Scott also is an active member of NAFA and a Board member of AFLA.

Fleet Financial’s 2006 Fleet Executive of the Year: Theresa Ragozine

Congratulations are also in order for Theresa Ragozine, Worldwide Director, Travel and Fleet, Johnson & Johnson, for winning Fleet Financial’s 2006 Fleet Executive of the Year award. Theresa manages a fleet of 30,000 vehicles, supervises a fleet staff of 10, and has been involved in fleet for the past nine years. Remarketing innovation (an area I’m particularly keen on, in case you haven’t noticed) is one of her many fleet accomplishments, having initiated “Deals on Wheels,” a multi-national employee Intranet site contributing to nearly $25 million in fleet savings to date. Theresa also utilized a total cost of ownership analysis and reverse auction to gain a full understanding of the annual buy strategy with the auto manufacturers and developed a European leasing platform.

Theresa Ragozine, Worldwide Director, Travel and Fleet, Johnson & Johnson, accepts the award for Fleet Executive of the Year in Orlando, Florida.

And DIA’s Own Special Recognition for the Winners and Nominees…it’s Party Time…

We at Driveitaway wanted to honor the winners, finalists and nominees of the Fleet Manager of the Year and Fleet Executive of the Year Awards, and thought it was a bit too early to end the night after the Affiliates’ and Manufacturers’ Beach Party on Sunday, so we threw our own “after hours” party in celebration. The 2006 Fleet Manager of the Year, awarded to Scott Mayo, had three additional finalists for the award, Lynda Dinwiddie, Director of Fleet and Travel, Laboratory Corp. of America; Joe LaRosa, Associate Director of Worldwide Fleet Administration, Bristol-Myers Squibb; and Kathy Schultz, Fleet Manager, Progressive Corp., as well as 11 additional original nominees.

The 2006 Fleet Executive of the Year, awarded to Theresa Ragozine, had five finalists: Douglas Baldy, Manager, Corporate Travel Services and Fleet, Eastman Kodak; Don Schaefer, Director, Safety and Fleet Operations, USG Corp.; Vic Stewart, Vice President of Corporate Purchasing, Advance Auto Parts; and Joe Winarski, Director of Real Estate and Corporate Services, Textron, Inc. So just in nominees and finalists alone we had a great group to begin festivities.

Thanks to the award winners, the folks at Bobit Business Media, and everyone else who came up to our suite that night and shared in the festivities. A few pictures from our party follow, including one with the award winners and our specially constructed ice sculpture created for the occasion. [Not only did the ice look nice but it lasted long after the party was over…so what are you supposed to do with a big block of ice that takes three days to melt in a hotel suite?]

Scott Mayo, Director of Fleet, Wendy’s International, Inc., and Theresa Ragozine, Worldwide Director, Travel and Fleet, Johnson & Johnson, in front of the Driveitaway party ice sculpture. From L to R: John Possumato, founder and vice chairman, Driveitaway; Ragozine; Mayo; Sherb Brown, vice president and group publisher, Bobit Business Media (BBM).

Congratulatory banners and posters for the event…

Not to mention a big block of ice…

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