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Monday, November 06, 2006 

Vol. 2 No. 32

The Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA) Annual Meeting and Conference 2006 Part II

Day Two…A Full Day of Business + Golf
The second full day of AFLA started off, as tradition dictates, with the annual business meeting and Director election results. Congratulations to the new slate of AFLA Directors, to Patsy Brownson, the outgoing President for a job well done, the incoming President, Mark Conroy, and to Mike Antich, Editor and Associate Publisher of Automotive Fleet Magazine, AFLA's newly elected Vice President.

Patsy Brownson, Outgoing AFLA President with Mark Conroy, Incoming AFLA President

Jim Frank, the head of Wheels, Inc. (the very first commercial fleet lease company), led off with the keynote on Thursday, with a presentation entitled, “Working Together as Business Partners” which clearly encompassed the entire theme of this year's conference. Like many who made presentations this year, its always a pleasure to hear Jim speak and present his insights. Next Susan Stills, from PHH Arval, led a panel discussion entitled “Measuring What Matters.” And then my old friend Tom Webb presented his latest “Used Car Market Update, Tom is one of the best prognosticators in the business, and somehow always seems to present complex information in a very clear and interesting way (maybe someday I'll learn to do powerpoint charts as well as he does).

...And the Panel that I Enjoyed the Most...
Finally, the last panel discussion of the conference was one I was honored to participate in, “Establishing New Industry Remarketing Benchmarks” moderated by Mike Antich. Mike assembled a first class panel (except maybe, of course, for yours truly) of industry veterans, which included: Ricky Beggs of Black Book, Pat Keating, the creator of the Manheim Market Report pricing, Bill Cieslak of PHH Arval, Jasen Lee of GE Commercial Finance Fleet Services, and Henry Paetzel of General Mills. Such a diversified group of experienced fleet remarketing professionals, representing both wholesale pricing guide giants, fleet management company remarketers and corporate fleet management presented a wide and deep range of expertise from which to draw information, and Mike certainly did a good of giving us lively and thought provoking questions.

Mike began the panel discussion with the observation that the emergence of online resale guides have prompted some fleet managers to use them, rather than traditional off-line media, as benchmarks to measure resale performance. The panel then did a good job of discussing the various new benchmarks available and how they are being used by different sectors of the fleet remarketplace to attempt to have a guide that truly reflects market conditions.

Further discussions of our panel included the observation of the inconsistencies between some guidebooks even for the same make and model with the same mileage, condition, etc. in the same region, which led into an overview of the pros and cons of using a composite benchmark blended from multiple guides. We explored the topic of pricing “whotail” for commercial fleet driver and employee sales, how Power Information Network data could be used to benchmark composite retail and wholesale pricing in specific geographic regions, and, in general, how new technology and data warehousing could be used to analyze historical resale data in increasing detail, to ultimately determine then the optimal time to turn a fleet vehicle, based on factors such as mileage, specific options and retail demand.

I thoroughly enjoyed participating in this panel, and listening to the insightful thoughts of the group.

Closing Dinner, Golf Awards, and a Very Special Remembrance...

Traditionally the conference ends with the incoming President's Reception and Dinner, the high point of which, for just about as long as I can recall, has been the presentation of the awards for skillful (or not so skillful) play at the annual AFLA “Pete 'Z' Memorial Golf Scramble, presented by everyone's favorite MC, Pat Patrick. Though long “formally” retired, Pat volunteered lots of dedicated time and energy to make sure the golf outing was a success in many different ways. Sadly, Pat passed away earlier this year, and all of us at AFLA felt the void of his warm, enduring and always humorous (in a slightly naughty way) vitality throughout the conference, but we all knew that at the dinner and golf presentations his absence would be especially felt. The dedication to Pat, that was created by Mike Conroy, Patsy Brownson Elsie Lucia, Kevin McGrath, and others at the dinner and awards presentation was very well done, and, with the presence of Pat's wife and son, really did help express the shared remembrance we all had of Pat. Complete with a slide show, a presentation or two about Pat and of the many ways he gave of himself to so many charities and causes, and, of course, topped off by a just slightly naughty joke delivered by Pat's son, the dedication was well done and most well deserved for some like Pat Patrick, and a fitting closing to this year's conference. No more can be said on for this year's event.

The AFLA Dedication and Donation to one of Pat Patrick's Favorite Charities

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