The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Be Careful How You Handle The Hot Ones!

January 2003, by Ed Bobit - Also by this author

Every reform, however necessary, will by weak minds be carried to an excess which will itself need reforming.- Samuel Taylor Coleridge


Reformers, as a group, are not a very attractive group of people. As you get older you recognize that. They are too self-righteous. They feel that they have the call.-Robert Moses


All reformers, however strict their social conscience, live in houses just as big as they can pay for. -Logan Pearsall Smith


Our editorial director (and heart and soul of the magazine), Mike Antich, spoke out about the growing influence of the public sector in the fleet market And just maybe, how this group may not be fully understood or appreciated. That was in AF's August issue.

In the September issue and although totally unsolicited and independent of Mike Antich's editorial the previous month, we published a most insightful and provocative letter from another Mike. In the case, Mike Beiger, of Hoffmann-La Roche. He noted the changing complexion of the NAFA membership demographics and challenged the associations leadership to address the situation.

As you may have either guessed or know firsthand, both Mikes initiated a litany of heretofore hidden responses apparently carefully held within the bosoms of individual industry people.

The "first Mike" (Antich) received literally dozens of letters, e-mails, and phone calls. Many of these were published in subsequent issue of AF in our Letters column. One could summarize the responses, nearly all from members of the public sector, as identifying themselves as "different" but still fleet managers who should be recognized as needing factories and service companies to understand how they operated.

It was a milestone of sorts, almost an Epiphany, while the public sector was heard from unleashing inner thoughts for all to see and hear. I got a great feeling out of it and was proud we had a part in evoking this kind of compliment and understanding.

With all due credit, NAFA's able president, David Robertson, City of Houston Fire Department, had NAFA's membership chair contact the "second Mike" (Bieger) to discuss his concerns and Robertson subsequently wrote an open letter to Mike addressing his concern. There was also a reference to a suggested educational session (not specifically identified) that was turned over to the NAFA Education Steering Broad.

Here's where I had a difficult time following procedurally. We are told that "suggestions and responses from NAFA membership" are collected and evaluated by the Fleet Management Institute (FMI) Curriculum Committee. They go on to say that "other education ideas (that) come from our Board of Governors meetings and miscellaneous questions raised by members and affiliates" are forwarded to the Education Steering Board. See why I'm confused?

In any event, a search shows that Gayle Pratt, State of Michigan, is the chair for the FMI Curriculum Committee and the chair of the Education Steering Board is Milt Reid, NAFA senior VP and fleet manager at the City of Gainesville (plus NAFA president-elect).

Then I looked at the list of NAFA offices besides the two top ones. Robertson and Reid already mentioned, and find the others are from the City of St. Louis; County of Henrico, VA; City of Beverly Hills, CA; Tacoma Power, Tacoma, WA; and (one corporate member) Kraft of Canada.

Robertson also, for the first time I recall, revealed a break down of membership; i.e. 39.3 percent "Corporate"; 11.8 percent "Utility"; and 48.9 percent "Government", "University", etc. The last time I looked NAFA had just over 2,200 full members so true "corporate" members now account for less than 900 and that's a decided minority.

NAFA is pulling the Law Enforcement Group into FM in 2005. Thought should be given to establishing educational tracks for each different major segment and perhaps allocating exhibit space in a "pavilion" mode where police suppliers are together, etc. Manufacturers' Night is being switched to Sunday night starting in '04 and other changes can be expected.

NAFA's e-newsletter in November reported that the Trustees reviewed the extensive dialogue on the relationship between government fleets and affiliates and aside from some step already taken, is being turned over to the Affiliates Committee for further review and recommendations.

Somewhere it may not be reform, but changes are likely under whatever heading because people care and participate. Like the two Mikes.


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