In Memoriam: Wheels Exec Ted Less
Ted Less, a long-time Wheels executive passed away on Dec. 11. He was 86. Less retired from Wheels Inc. in 1995 as a senior vice president. He spent all but three years of his working career at Wheels Inc., which he joined in 1958 as truck leasing manager.
“In 1958, I heard that Wheels was looking for someone to start up a truck leasing operation,” recalled Less in a 1989 interview with Automotive Fleet, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Wheels. “I had over three years of experience in truck leasing and was trained as an accountant, so I had all the skills that could be applied.”
At that time, the co-founder of Wheels, Zollie Frank, was still actively running the company. Ted recalled Zollie telling him, “Let’s give it a year and see if you can put this truck thing together for us. A year from now we’ll talk.” Less never had that talk with Zollie and joked that he was on probation during his entire career at Wheels.
Less did an impressive job in starting the Wheels truck leasing operation, and was promoted to vice president of sales, and ultimately, senior vice president of client service.
One colleague who remembered Less was Dennis LaLiberty, who retired from Wheels in 2002 after 43 years in the fleet management industry, all of which were spent at Wheels Inc. “I started at Wheels the same year as Ted and worked with him initially in the Truck Leasing Department, then later in Sales,” recalled LaLiberty. “Ted was one of the best salesmen I ever met and he had a laser-like focus on the needs of our clients and their satisfaction with our service. I labored with him, learned from him, and laughed with him (a lot). He was my mentor, my boss, and later my colleague, but most of all he was my friend."
Less retired in 1995, but remained active in the Chicagoland community, volunteering with Rotary International and as a court-appointed advocate for victims of sexual abuse.