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Sunday, January 21, 2007 

Vol. 3 No. 1

Time for the Annual 2006 Review (or how I put all on all those air miles…): Part I

Once again, we just past the time of year when you wonder where all the time went, and once again you realize you probably rushed through everything too quickly, or wasted too much time just waiting to go from one place to another. It certainly adds credence to the tag line from a too often played advertisement that says “life’s a journey…” Unfortunately for me it seems like its sometimes just a long wait in some godforsaken airline terminal. In any event, here’s a synopsis of the major auto events I attended in 2006:

January – The first car event I attended for the year was the National Fleet Administrators Association’s Carlinas Chapter Meeting, which featured a presentation on upstream remarketing by my old friend Bryan Calloway of LeasePlan USA. A two day event including an outdoor affiliate fair, it was a fun way to kick things off with old fleet industry friends, at Myrtle Beach’s Kingston Plantation.

FebruaryJD Power International Automotive Roundtable and National Automobile Dealer Association Convention & Exposition (back to back) – held in Orlando, FL, and, as lots of parties where held at Disney’s Pleasure Island, or at one of the parks, it was especially fun (here’s where I could say something about, although being in Orlando quite a bit over the years, I never remember it having quite that many costumed “Goofy” characters as when the car folks hit…). As is customary, the roundtable was exceptional, and the presentation by Mark Fields, Ford Executive Vice President and President of the Americas, where he identified that he recognized there were various sectors of the fleet business and that unprofitable fleet business ( read: daily rental subsidized program cars) was going to greatly diminish, turned out to be prophetic in the months to come. I had a blast at the “Tuners” presentation as well. The NADA Convention and the parties also were second to none. The convention floor was packed with a record number of vendors, and, of course, there were literally too many worthwhile things to attend (seminars, press conferences, and of course, receptions), to get to all of them. This is still the grand daddy of all car guy conferences, and still the best.

March – Again, the back-to-back killer combination of the International Automotive Remarketers Alliance Roundtable, followed by Bobit Business Media’s Conference on Automotive Remarketing (CAR) in good old Las Vegas, NV. The CAR conference, my personal favorite remarketing gathering, was made extra special this year, as Gage Wagner, the Fleet Manager of Philips Medical Systems, won the inaugural “Upstream Remarketer of the Year” Award for his ground breaking achievements in remarketing his fleet vehicles in multi- upstream channels (first to drivers, then his company’s employees, then to the pool of all company employees, then to volume dealer buyers) on the LeasePlan reDrive system powered by Driveitaway. Gage saved his company over $900 in increased net realization per vehicle unit, and his employees saved between $1,500 - $2,000 off of normal retail prices for the vehicles purchased – a win/win for all concerned. For me, the “Upstream Remarketer of the Year” Award capped off the best CAR conference yet and probably the best single event I attended all year, in a year of very strong events.

Right after the CAR conference, we had our own, first ever, Remarketing Advisory Panel Meeting. I again am indebted to Mike Antich, the CAR Conference Co-Chairman and the Editor and Associate Publisher of Automotive Fleet Magazine, who took the time to moderate our esteemed Advisory Panel, which included: Patsy Brownson, CAFM, Cox Enterprises, Suzanne Fischer, Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, Gage Wagoner, Philips Medical Systems, Elsie Lucia, The Estee Lauder Companies, Frank Memolo, Panasonic Corporation of America, and Rod Smith, Arelco, Inc.

Closed out the month at the National Car Rental Licensee Association Annual Conference in Florida, the first time I attended this function, but hopefully not the last. With everything going on, including our own first advisory panel meeting, March was definitely takes the title of the busiest month of the year for us.

April – The first springtime version of the Bobit Business Media’s annual Car Rental Show, Las Vegas, NV, started off this month with a bang. I like rental car guys as much as I like dealer and fleet folks, and, as this represents the primary growth area of our business with “risk” vehicles beginning to replace manufacturer buy back “program” vehicles, we are now spending lots of time in this sector. As a Bobit planned event, this once again, was “top of game,” my only regret is that by changing the thing to the Spring, I now can’t look forward to it in the fall any more.

Also attended the New York Car Show during the during the “Press & VIP” opening days, and, as usual, it was quite an event. I hope I get to go this year as well, as I always seem to miss the big shows at the beginning of the year (Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia), this one seems always seems to be at the right time for me, and, being just a short ride away from New York, far more accessible.

Wrapped up the month attending the second annual National Association of Dealer Council meeting, this year in our “second” home city of Chicago, IL. Not only is this crammed full of on point, automotive retail and wholesale legal seminars but I get my needed Continuing Legal Education hour credits to boot. Finally, I stopped in on the Budget Car Rental Licensee Association Annual Conference at the very end of April, I had so much fun at the National Car Rental Licensee annual event, I couldn’t pass this one up.

May – Once again, attendance at the National Association of Fleet Administrators Annual Conference & Exposition, this year in Orlando, FL, May 6-9. And once again, we really had to work at this one. We kicked it off, first with our very own, second Remarketing Advisory Panel Meeting, with first time attendees including: Patsy Brownson, CAFM, Cox Enterprises, Elsie Lucia, The Estee Lauder Companies, and Frank Memolo, Panasonic Corporation of America; and, we were pleased to include, Shirley Roberts, Fleet Manager, 3M Company, as well, for this meeting. Right after this we hosted the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association’s Board of Director’s meeting in our suite, all this before the NAFA Conference officially started. Once NAFA did start, it was the usual, almost round the clock networking, reception attendance and exposition floor walking, and, of course, the outstanding “Fleet Manager of the Year,” awarded to Scott Mayo, Director of Fleet, Wendy's International, and “Fleet Executive of the Year,” awarded to Theresa Ragozine, Worldwide Director, Travel and Fleet, Johnson & Johnson, presented by the Bobit Business Media folks. We like the last one so much we dedicated our own special party to the recipients.

Next in May came the General Motors’ 2007 Fleet Product Preview annual meeting in Nashville, then Ron Smith’s annual iRemarkting Conference 2006, in San Antonio, TX, May 17-19. This year the iRem@arketing was especially good, and I thought the presentation on remarketing by John Manchin, Remarketing Manager, Subaru Auto Leasing, Ltd., was one of the very best I’ve seen of its kind, at any remarketing event.

June – Two conferences, back to back, with two leasing 20 groups to round things out. When I was invited to address the outstanding 20 Group meetings by Bill Thomas’ EXCEL* Management Dynamics organization I immediately accepted, but then when these meetings where scheduled on either side of the annual National Vehicle Leasing Association Conference in Dallas, TX, June 7-10, it became a bit of travel challenge. Neverhteless, I successfully shuttled in between it all to the National Independent Automobile Dealer Association 60th Annual Convention in Las Vegas, NV, and attended both in about a five day period – with a few more hours in the day I could have attended more of each though… Wrapped up the month at the 2007 Chrysler Fleet Preview show in Memphis, TN, June 19-21st, had a good time and got to visit some old friends in Memphis at the same time.


That wraps up the first half of the year...to be continued...

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