Three years have gone by since our founder Ed Bobit passed away. In many ways it feels like an eternity but in other ways it feels like he was just here yesterday. A part of me still expects him to walk in the office every morning. He was a larger-than-life force and left quite an impact on me, and on the fleet industry.
Every time I travel to a fleet event (and that seems like a weekly occurrence these days) I’m impressed with the number of people who still take the time to come up and tell me how much they miss Ed and how much he meant to them. At our own Government Fleet Expo last month, a number of the GF Hall of Fame nominees mentioned Bobit Business Media and Ed Bobit in particular when discussing the things that made a difference in their professional careers. It’s also great to see his old friends on a regular basis and be able to reminisce about the good old days. Russ Cass from Piemonte National Fleet, Rick Nicoletti from the Napleton Fleet Group, Sue Miller from GeoTab, Ed Peper from GM, and John Ruppert from Ford are always good for a new story and some new insight into the legend.
One thing Ed had a real gift for was writing this column on a regular basis and identifying the key issues facing fleet managers. Most of his old columns are available online on our website and I encourage you to read them when you have some free time. A couple of things will jump out at you. First, he had an incredible knack for not only identifying some problem areas, but for also coming up with logical solutions. Secondly, you’ll think he was a bit of a fortune teller because many of the issues he identified 10, 20, or even 30 years ago are still true today.
Courtesy deliveries have always been a sore spot and probably will continue to be one until the magical day that the OEMs figure out a way to outsource the whole process. And pay a little more. And speaking of outsourcing, that’s been an issue for decades too. First it was a great idea, then it was evil incarnate and threatening to cause the extinction of the fleet manager, and now it’s somewhere in the middle. Vehicle selection has been a prime area too. Ed waxed poetically about everything from changing to four cylinder engines during the 1973 Arab oil embargo to the wonders of the new Eurovans and all the associated complications.
Ed left one heck of an impression with everyone he met. He also built a great family business over the course of 50 years. One of the finest testaments to his legacy is that he put us all in a position to continue to serve our markets in his absence. His son Ty is doing an amazing job as our CEO as we continue to evolve to meet the needs of our industries. His grandsons are doing great work on Heavy Duty Trucking, one of newest and largest brands.
Mike Antich, who worked with Ed for decades, continues to serve as our editorial director as he works to extend our brand globally. His hunting buddy Eric Bearly continues to do incredible work leading our government brands and serving as our national sales manager. My brother Bob does a great job following Ed’s lessons and making sure the OEMs are properly represented throughout our markets. And now my own son Dylan is serving another apprenticeship here and fine tuning his knowledge of the telematics market in honor of Grandpa Coach.
The Coach had a great run for over 80 years with 50+ of them in the fleet business. He taught us well and he left a lasting legacy with all of us. Hopefully one of these days we’ll figure out courtesy deliveries or outsourcing and he’ll raise a toast from above to congratulate us all.
If you disagree, let me know.