First, I would like to thank Rick for allowing the Communication Committee members a chance to become editor for a day (or a month, I guess). It is always interesting to see who can come up with ideas that will keep each of you reading the Spec Sheet and opening the links to our stories. In January, we had 232 people out of our total membership of 333 open the Spec Sheet. Those who opened it spent an average of 3 minutes and 21 seconds reading the stories. Not bad statistically, but we want to improve our readership.
As Rick has stated, everyone knows that AFLA is the best networking source for fleet and leasing industry professionals. We also want to be the organization that provides our members with information and discussion about any current issues. That being said we are reaching out to industry organizations to tap into their knowledge and intellectual capital. These organizations include:
The Center for Automotive Research, http://www.cargroup.org/ a nonprofit organization, is focused on a wide variety of important trends and changes related to the automobile industry and society at the international, federal, state and local levels. CAR conducts industry research, develops new methodologies, forecasts industry trends, advises on public policy, and sponsors multi-stakeholder communication forums. You can go to CAR's website to view their latest whitepaper on: THE ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF A CORPORATE FLEET VEHICLE PURCHASE PROGRAM – PREPARED FOR AT&T
The Transportation Research Institute at the University of Michigan is committed to interdisciplinary research that will ultimately increase driving safety and further transportation systems knowledge. We will periodically publish and link to white papers and articles from UMTRI so AFLA members have access to their transportation expertise.
If you have suggestions for other industry related associations or topics you would like to see covered, please e-mail me and I will do the research and publish what I find.
Enough of the serious topics! We are introducing features that we hope you will find amusing – such as Jim McCarthy’s Liner Notes and What Was Your First Car? New this month is Inquiring Minds Would Like to Know featuring Elsie Lucia. You have to read this, and then share a story about your own adventure.
I hope you enjoy the February Spec Sheet. Thanks again to Rick for providing me a chance to become involved in the Editor's Notebook.
While almost whole country is hunkered down for this cold, and around here, snowy, winter, ALFA is warmed up, getting some traction and already headed in the right direction thanks to some unswerving members.
For example, the Conference Committee has already secured three keynote speakers for our September conference. Entertainment plans are being drawn up. However, suggestions for conference session topics or speakers are still welcome from any AFLA member and can be submitted to either me or Theresa Belding.
The Sponsorship Committee continues to reach out to new and existing sponsors for the new year. One very encouraging indication of AFLA’s progress is that several new organizations are making unsolicited inquiries. The committee hopes to exceed 2009 sponsorship levels.
The Membership Committee will begin an ePromo campaign to attract prospective members to join AFLA. Of course, we encourage every AFLAL member to reach out to a non-member and explain the unique benefits of AFLA membership.
The Education Committee’s whitepaper series has generated a good number of informative submissions which will appear in the “Resources” page of our website. Of course, the first webinar is scheduled for Thursday, February 25 at 11:00am EDT, and all members are encouraged to sign up.
The Communications Committee received feedback from its member survey concerning the Spec Sheet. The results were overwhelmingly positive, and the committee is committed to making it even better.
Both the Commercial Fleet Sounding Board and the Technology Task Force are reporting good progress with their 2010 initiatives. One major undertaking that’s getting underway is revamping our website, aflaonline.com, which will open up some exciting new capabilities. You’ll be hearing more about those in the coming months.
AFLA has several positions up for election this year, including Vice President, Director Fleet Managers, Director Fleet Management Company, Director Allied/Manufacturer, Director At Large. We welcome nominations from all AFLA members. Just email your nominee to Paul Hanscom at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am anxious to meet and speak to as many AFLA members as possible this year. Feel free to let me know what you think about our organization, our committees, and our many activities. Your critique will only help us build the best possible fleet association!
Time Capsule: Pierce Walsh
Pierce Walsh, AFLA past president – 1975-1976, discusses his experiences with AFLA and his time as president. Pierce is interviewed by Rick Nicoletti of Napleton Fleet.
Time Capsule Archives: Interviews with additional Past Presidents are available online at www.aflaonline.com.
If You Think You've Heard It All, Think Again...
Each month, we will try to provide you with some odd, but true, stories about the fleet industry collected by Automotive Fleet Magazine. If you have a strange story to share, feel free to send it to Rick Nicoletti at email@example.com for possible inclusion in a future Spec Sheet.
Don’t Smuggle Your Wife in Your Company Car
A fleet manager received a call from a company driver reporting his company vehicle had been confiscated by the INS.
The individual, from Southern California, had recently married a Mexican woman, and the couple drove to Mexico to visit her family. On the return trip, the U.S. customs officer asked each how long the couple had been in Mexico and the purpose of their visit.
The two said they had been visiting family in Mexico for three days. Because the wife had a Mexican accent, the customs officer requested documentation proving her U.S. residence, but the only ID she had indicated her Mexican address.
Insisting she was a U.S. resident living in Los Angeles, the employee’s wife could not produce proper documentation. The fleet employee was told to leave his wife at the customs office and return to Los Angeles to retrieve the marriage license. The employee said he would return his wife to her parents' home, and then travel to Los Angeles to retrieve the marriage certificate.
After driving a short distance from the border, the fleet employee hid his wife in the vehicle’s trunk and once again approached the border.
The customs officer remembered him and searched the car, including the trunk, discovering the hidden wife. The officer impounded the vehicle and suggested the fleet driver rent a car, retrieve his marriage certificate, and return for his wife.
The company employee rented the car, drove his wife a short distance from the border, and again hid her in the trunk of the rental car. The strategy did not work, and his wife was discovered again.
This time, however, the INS arrested the employee for attempting to smuggle an “undocumented resident” across the border. The company car became the property of the Mexican government. The company and the leasing company could not persuade the customs office or the Mexican government to release the vehicle. The driver was released after a few days, but the company had to purchase a new vehicle.
Eventually, the employee showed up with his marriage certificate and charges were dropped. However, since company policy prohibits taking a leased vehicle over the border, the employee was terminated, and the company sued for the value of the vehicle.
Stolen a Second Time
One fleet had a fleet vehicle stolen from a location in New Jersey. About a week or so later, the fleet manager received a phone call from the police in Brooklyn, NY, stating the stolen car was located and found on a street in Brooklyn. The fleet manager quickly arranged for a towing company pick up the vehicle.
Unfortunately, by the time the towing company arrived to pick up the car, it wasn’t there — the car had been stolen a second time!
Inquiring Minds Would Like to Know:
Why Was Elsie Lucia in the Back Seat of a Police Car?
by Elsie Lucia, Past AFLA President
I had just started with CPC/Bestfoods in New Jersey and was recovering from an “at home” accident – OK, I fell off a ladder and broke my ankle. It was an extremely snowy winter – and I was spending quite a bit of time moving our three Pool vehicles from one spot in the parking lot to another – to accommodate the snow plows. I was quite a sight – hobbling around with a black plastic bag over my cast. After two or three of these snow patrol moves, I decided to move the vehicles to the end of the parking lot prior to the storm so the plows could “do their thing.” I moved the cars to a remote end of the parking lot and yes, a severe storm came through – leaving lots of heavy snow, downed wires and trees.
I got a call from security the next day that I needed to check out the vehicles at the end of the parking lot – and yes, a tree had fallen and crushed two of the tree vehicles. Who would have thought that would happen! I had to call the local police as the trees were on town property. I met the policeman at the end of the parking lot – he looked at me a bit strangely as I brushed off the snow on the remaining undamaged vehicle – while I was wearing a black plastic bag over my foot. After we exchanged information regarding the tree/vehicle incident, he asked me if I would like a lift back to the building. I guess he felt sorry for the "bag lady." I eagerly agreed to the ride. I had to ride in the back of the vehicle, as there was too much equipment in the front. When we got back to the building, he had to let me out of the back of the vehicle. As I thanked him and waved, I looked up to see many of my colleagues at the window watching and wondering what a woman with a black plastic bag over her foot was doing getting out of a police car. I waved and just let them wonder about my ride in the back of the police car.
Join Kipp Coddington for the first AFLA member webinar on Thursday, February 25, at 11:00am Eastern Time/8:00am Pacific Time. Coddington will present on climate change, what federal policies are positioned to address it, and how this will impact your fleet.
About the Presenter:
Kipp Coddington is a partner in the Energy Infrastructure, Climate & Technology Group. He represents clients in climate change transactions and provides advice under various carbon dioxide regulatory schemes in the United States and abroad. He is experienced in the negotiation of Emission Reduction Purchase Agreements and leads deal teams on numerous transactions under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism.
White Paper: Are Your Company's Light-Duty Vehicles Regulated?
The Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA) is pleased to distribute white paper series volume 21, titled “Are your Company’s Light-Duty Vehicles Regulated?” The white paper is a reprint from the September/October 2009 issue of Work Truck magazine published by Automotive Fleet.
Any company that operates a vehicle or a combination of vehicles with a total gross weight rating of more than 10,000 lbs. is subject to FMCSR rules. The article uncovers compliance regulations covering the vehicle, the driver and your operation to avoid hefty fines.
A PDF copy of this paper is available HERE. It can also be found in the Resource Library on the AFLA website.
AFLA White Paper Library
Check out our archived section of member-only White Papers online in the Resource Library at www.aflaonline.com.
To keep the AFLA White Paper Series as an important benefit, we invite your contribution of material for publication. To learn more about how you can participate in the AFLA White Paper Series, contact Paul Hanscom at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scott Okun snapped this shot while waiting for the downtown train in the Windy City.
Dico Akseraylian captured this picture of the PHH Sparks office in Maryland.
Lori Rasmussen shares this photo from the front porch of her Virginia home, where they received 2.5 feet of snow. She hopes the predicted 5-10 additional inches is a joke!
Winter weather forced Mike Antich to leave early from his job at Automotive Fleet magazine. Despite the winter weather, he was able to get some work done outside the office.
AFLA Photo Album: Capturing Our Memories
A journey through yesteryear illustrated by photos of memorable events captured at past AFLA conferences and remembrances of legendary members who are no longer with us, but who will never be forgotten.
John Sohl (left), founder of Auto Driveaway, and son Brandon Sohl, past-president of Auto Driveaway, display a picture of the first car John Sohl ever shipped, a 1952 Ford. The photo was presented to Sohl at the company's 50th anniversary celebration in 2002.
John Sohl,founder of Auto Driveaway Company, died Feb. 14 of congestive heart failure at his home in Gainesville, Fla. He was 94 years old.
Sohl started Auto Driveaway in Philadelphia in 1952, primarily delivering cars from the East Coast to Florida destinations. He then franchised offices in Boston, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Miami. In 1960, Sohl became aware of a similar driveaway business (AAA Driveaway) in Chicago, which delivered used cars from the auto auctions in the Chicago area. He purchased the business and moved his family to Chicago.
In the early 1970s, Auto Driveaway became a regulated Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) carrier. During the late 1970s and 1980s, Auto Driveaway expanded to over 75 offices throughout the United States and Canada, including Hawaii. During this period, the company was the primary motor home delivery service for Winnebago Industries in Iowa, delivering more than 5,000 recreational vehicles a year. The business had changed from private snowbird deliveries to corporate deliveries of vehicles for the Fortune 500 companies, which had large fleet departments to control their sales force and service vehicles.
Sohl was actively involved in the fleet industry. He was an enthusiastic supporter of trade organizations such as NAFA Fleet Management Association (formerly National Association of Fleet Administrators), and the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA). The business became a franchisor in 1999 after the deregulation of the motor carrier industry. Auto Driveaway was an early affiliate member of NAFA, promoting membership and close relationships with the corporate fleet executives. During peak years, the business shipped more than 40,000 vehicles and grossed over $18 million. From 2000 on, the primary customers were large leasing companies such as ARI, Wheels, GE Capital Fleet Services, PHH Arval, and Motorlease. The business was sold to the franchisees in 2004. After the death of his wife Rose, he met his current wife Barbara Ann aboard a Caribbean cruise and they settled in Gainsville, FL.
Auto Driveaway celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2002. Sohl retired that year, after spending 50 years in the automotive industry.
According to his son Brandon, past-president of Auto Driveaway, “He was a true entrepreneur, starting a business from scratch and building it into a major service organization.”
Sohl is survived by his wife, Barbara Ann; son, Brandon and his wife Linda; grandsons, Justin and Craig; and stepchildren, Debbie McClellan, Randy McClellan and wife Suzi, Mary Hunnicult and husband Ronnie, and Judy Hellstrom. A service will be held at a later date in Chicago.
What Was Your First Car?
by Kevin McGrath, Fleet Street Remarketing, LLC
My first car was a 1960 blue Plymouth Valiant. I paid $50 for it but my father wouldn't let me drive it without insurance. I had to take out a loan because insurance was $500!
It had push button transmission and a continental kit on the back. I had the car for two years and it went everywhere...Atlantic City, New York City, Cleveland and Philadelphia. It died when the left front wheel fell off after hitting a pothole at fifty. When I left it on the side of the road I think it had half my wardrobe in it.
Now it’s your turn. Send us your story. If you have a photo of you and your first car, all the better. Send your story to email@example.com.