The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

The 11½ Things I Remember About the NAFA Convention

July 2006, by Ed Bobit - Also by this author

Memory is a crazy woman that hoards colored rags and throws away food. - Austin O'Malley

Memory is not just the imprint of the past time upon us; it is the keeper of what is meaningful for our deepest hopes and fears. - Rollo May

Some memories are realities, and are better than anything that can happen again. - Willa Cather

The existence of forgetting has never been proved: We only know that some things don't come to mind when we want them. - Friedrich Nietzsche

There aren 't too many others who can match 45 consecutive conference memories; even I cannot recall them all specifically.

1. When things really got started Sunday morning with our Awards Brunch, it was exciting to see how nervous the four finalists were for the Fleet Manager of the Year presentation.

Scott Mayo (Wendy's), the winner, was literally unprepared to find the words in acknowledging the award. (He should have had it down pat since it was his 4"' nomination.)

2. Johnson & Johnson's worldwide director of fleet & travel, Theresa Ragozine, was positively sparkling in her appearance accepting the annual Fleet Executive of the Year award. The audience reaction to the announcement confirmed the judges' popular decision.

3. It amazes me to count how many selfless, professional, and devoted volunteer members contribute to making this event successful. When you realize the hours spent on hosting, arranging presentations, serving on panels, and preparing for committee meetings, NAFA is pretty lucky to have the participation.

4. Some of the exhibitors/sponsors remarked lo me about how effective it was when Dave Lefever (former executive director) would walk the show aisles with the president. I know I was in our booth for both afternoons and didn't see it happen either.

5. Everyone agreed that the Gaylord Hotel people know how to build a great venue. Their "complete/self-sufficient" complex had it all, and it was the same at their hotel in Grapevine last year. But there's no Gaylord for next year when, oddly, it's back in Texas again; this time in Houston (???).

6. It didn't take long to figure out why most of the fleet managers looked so somber. Their jobs are diminishing in value each day while the corporate pressures grow. From what they said to me it's budgets, fuel costs, and reimbursement that top the list of nasties.

7. Our guy, Mike Antich, really got creative with this year's Public Sector Fleet Manager of the Year Award (2nd annual). His networking spiked strong interest among most government fleet managers who filled a room (SRO crowd) for the presentation.

John McCorkhill with the City of Lynchburg, Va., was honored with a standing ovation. John Hunt, last year's winner provided some humor and nostalgic noles on his life after his win a year ago. This is definitely a dedicated, professional, and homogenous group, full of humble pride.

8. While they continued their strong sponsorship, it wasn't the same without the GM people and their large exhibit. Most know there was a conflict of dates. Same for next year, unfortunately.

9. The real undercurrent gossip in private conversations surrounds two Fortune 500 companies. One has a very large and well-managed fleet. Their corporate management has signed on with the "oilier" large software/hardware company as the ultimate outsource entity whereby every product (from toilet paper to product packaging lo fleet vehicles) will be purchased for their new account.

The speculation is that the outsource company ultimately intends lo attract many large corporations with their service and eventually act as a consortium buyer (like the GSA for federal). We will be keeping close scrutiny on the developments here and will keep the industry informed.

10. A key new committee is now set up to investigate possible co-joining or other arrangements between NAFA and other associations, NTEA, Fed Fleet, etc. Some have commented that NAFA should first find a better solution to the Law Enforcement Group, which remains less than enthusiastic about togetherness.

11. It's a sheer joy to be at NAFA's annual affair. I meet old friends that I may see only once a year. I also make new friends and learn a lot. Some reluctantly admit they still read my column. Better than that were all the kudos for our managing editor, Cindy Brauer, who showed up with her research blockbuster for the convention issue with nine categories on "Best Practices." They loved it.

11½.  I'm looking forward to next year's meeting for all the I I /I above reasons. There's nothing like it.

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