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Helen Bland

Helen Bland - Hallmark

In 1942, Helen Bland, former fleet manager for Hallmark, Inc., left her teaching job in Eldorado Springs, Mo. and moved to Kansas City, Mo., to begin a career that spanned across 45 years. Her first position at Hallmark was in the order department where she worked her way up to secretary for the production manager. Bland did that for 20 years until she felt that she needed a change. At that time, Hallmark was forming a fleet department and she thought it would be a new and exciting area to work in and requested a transfer.

Bland started as the assistant to the fleet manager, but the company began changing fleet managers every other year.

“When the director of the division was interviewing for the third fleet manager, “Bland recalls, “I went to him and said: ‘I am familiar with this position and I know many of the dealers and manufacturers. Why can’t I have this job?’ I don’t know how I ever summoned up enough courage to say that, because I am a relatively shy person at heart.”

But the risk paid off and Bland got the job.

In addition to her responsibilities at Hallmark, she was installed as National Association of Fleet Administrators (NAFA) president in 1985, which marked the first time a woman ever held this office. Bland retired from Hallmark in 1987.

Howard Cook

Howard Cook – Ford Motor Co.

The late Howard Cook began his lengthy career with the Ford Motor Co. in 1926 when he attended the Henry Ford Trade School in Dearborn, MI. Upon graduating in 1931, Cook worked as an apprentice and student mechanic in Highland Park, MI. After his apprenticeship, Cook held a number of positions with Ford Motor Co. such as service traveler, zone manager, sales representative, and project engineer.

Cook transferred to Washington, DC, in 1945 as a commercial supervisor. Shortly after, he became sales manager, and in that same year, he was promoted to assistant district manager. In 1948, he was named district sales manager of the Ford Division, and in 1954 he became fleet sales department manager. Nine years later, Cook was promoted to fleet and leasing sales manager, a position he held until his retirement in 1969.

Eddie Dame

Eddie Dame – Avis Leasing

Born Edgar J. Dame Jr., known in the fleet industry as Eddie Dame In 1948, Dame started out in the automotive industry as a garage serviceman for Dick Robie, and Hertz licensee in Boston, Mass. Then in 1954, Robie bought the Avis system from Warren Avis and moved the company’s headquarters to Boston.

During his long-term employment with Avis, Dame held a number of positions such as a reservation agent, a rental agent, an assistant to the general manager, a car leasing salesman, and a car leasing operations manager. When Dame retired from the company in 1986, his title was senior vice president and general manager of the car leasing division, a position he held for 20 years. His retirement in 1986 marked a 40-year career with Avis.

In an interview with Automotive Fleet in 1991, Dame said the car leasing division at Avis is very service-orientated and profitable, even though it is treated as a secondary endeavor to the daily rental business. Born Edgar J. Dame Jr., known in the fleet industry as Eddie Dame In 1948, Dame started out in the automotive industry as a garage serviceman for Dick Robie, and Hertz licensee in Boston, Mass. Then in 1954, Robie bought the Avis system from Warren Avis and moved the company’s headquarters to Boston.

During his long-term employment with Avis, Dame held a number of positions such as a reservation agent, a rental agent, an assistant to the general manager, a car leasing salesman, and a car leasing operations manager. When Dame retired from the company in 1986, his title was senior vice president and general manager of the car leasing division, a position he held for 20 years. His retirement in 1986 marked a 40-year career with Avis.

In an interview with Automotive Fleet in 1991, Dame said the car leasing division at Avis is very service-orientated and profitable, even though it is treated as a secondary endeavor to the daily rental business.

Dame died Aug. 19, 2004 died Aug. 19, 2004 of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 76. Born in Winthrop. Mass., Dame was a world-class speed skating champion, holding eight world records in various events. Dame is survived by his wife of 50 years, Ruth; two daughters, Nancy Staffier and Martha Dame; a son, Peter Dame; three sisters, Louisa Lavery – Steele, Mary Aileen, and Prudence Dame; a brother, Chester Dame; and three grandchildren.

Don Fenton

Don Fenton – Piemonte Fleet

Back in 1957, Don Fenton began his fleet sales career at Nickey Chevrolet in Chicago, IL. At that time, Fenton was virtually alone as a fleet sales executive traveling the entire country in search of a market for his company’s products.

In 1967, Fenton went to work for Long Chevrolet as director of fleet sales operation. He left Long Chevrolet in 1981 and went to work for Faul Fleet Group in 1982 where he served as president for eight years.

“Over the years,” Fenton says, “I have always firmly believed that a buyer could get the same Ford or Chevy or Chrysler from literally thousands of different dealers–many a lot closer to the buyer’s place of business than my dealership. But the difference that made it all work was the fact that I always made sure I had the best people, the best systems, and the best service. That formula has proven itself time and again, and is a mainstay of my business efforts today.” In 1990-1991, Fenton worked for Bobit Publishing as an advertising sales executive, representing Automotive Fleet in the Midwest and Eastern U.S.

In 1991, Fenton joined Al Piemonte National Fleet in Melrose Park, Ill. as vice president of sales and marketing.

Fenton was one of the founders of AFLA, as well as its third president.

Among his other accomplishments, Fenton was a founder of the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association and served as its third president. He also served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, stationed in Alaska.

He was killed in a single-vehicle traffic accident in the Seattle, Wash. Area on Aug. 30, 2003. Fenton was 68. The accident occurred when Fenton swerved to avoid hitting an animal, causing the Ford Expedition he was driving to hit a guardrail and plunge into a 50-foot ravine. Inside the vehicle with Fenton was his wife, Ann, who suffered serious injuries, but recovered.

Fenton’s death came less than a month after the passing of Milo Matick, vice president of fleet for Piemonte National Fleet, who died Aug. 6, 2003 of a heart attack.

Jim Frank

Jim Frank – Wheels Inc.

When Jim Frank, president and CEO of Wheels Inc. first joined the company in 1967, his mentor in the car leasing business was his father Zollie Frank who founded Wheels Inc. in 1939 with his brother-in-law, Armund Schoen.

“Like my father,” the younger Frank says, “I began in the business selling cars on the retail side. I did anything and everything. I don’t think I could have had a better education in our business.” When Frank was promoted to Wheels president in 1974, he said, “My personal objective is to keep the company true to the fundamental goals we have successfully established over the past 35 years. We don’t necessarily want to be the biggest, but we want to be the best company in the industry. We emphasize quality and sensitivity to our clients’ needs — to me those are our most important goals.”

That motto still holds true today. Wheels remains one of the top four largest privately-held automobile and truck leasing companies in the United States.

Frank has served as president of the American Automotive Leasing Association (AALA).

Zollie Frank

Zollie Frank – Wheels Inc.

The year was 1939. A young Chicago automobile dealer, Zollie Frank, had been in business for just three years. One day, two executives from a large Chicago pharmaceutical company, Petrolagar, stopped in to buy a couple of cars. While looking at cars, the executives talked to Zollie about a problem they were having. They had been helping their salesmen buy new personal cars in order to get them started on their jobs. But salesmen with job training and a car were often quickly hired away — taking their new cars with them. They asked Zollie if he had any solutions for their problem.

In retrospect, Zollie said, “I thought why not lease them the cars, charging them only for the use of the cars and not the cars themselves? This way Petrolagar would retain control of their cars without having to make a major cash outlay. They agreed and a deal was made.” And an industry was born.

So in 1939, Zollie started Wheels, Inc. (originally Four Wheels) with his brother-in-law Armund Schoen. Fifty-two years later, the Chicago IL-based family auto empire now includes 22 companies. Among them are five in the leasing and rental group, five vehicle franchises, four firms in the finance group, five in the real estate group, and three in the insurance group. Zollie Frank passed away December 29, 1990 of natural causes at the age of 83. His legacy lives on through his sons Jim, president of Wheels, Inc., and Chuck, who handles the family’s dealership business, the Z Frank Auto Dealership Group.

George Frink

George Frink – GM/Chevrolet

If you asked George Frink how he happened onto the fleet industry, he would probably answer, “It just happened that way going west of just lucky.” The truth is, he did not have the foggiest notion what the fleet business was when it was added to his job title. Ford and Chrysler were well in to their first post-war incentive and daily rental buyback or lease programs by the mid-1960s.

By 1966, these programs were having a serious negative impact on General Motors, so GM decided to beef up their corporate fleet activity through the GM Fleet Section. Their man for the job was George Frink, who joined the GM Fleet Section in August 1966.

In 1974, Frink was named director of fleet sales at Buick, and in 1976 he was promoted to director of marketing for the division.

Frink headed the GM Fleet Section in 1978, and in the same year, he succeeded Robert Berg and was promoted to Chevrolet Division as director of fleet sales.

In 1992, when General Motors consolidated its divisional fleet operations, Frink was named director of the newly created GM North American Operations (NAO) Consolidated Fleet Operations.

Frink worked in the fleet business for 30 years, retiring from GM in August 1996. After retiring, Frink relocated to Arizona where he lived until three years ago before returning to Rochester, Mich. He passed away from cancer in Rochester, Mich., Oct. 25 2007. He was 70.

Bud Grossman

Bud Grossman – Gelco

In 1956, Bud Grossman founded The Gelco Corporation, which was subsequently listed as a New York stock exchange transportation management company. Grossman remained at Gelco until 1987 when it was sold to General Electric Capital Corporation He was also a founder and chairman of Dyco Petroleum Corp., a New York stock exchange oil and gas exploration company which was eventually sold to Diversified Energies, Inc..

Grossman was CEO of Cogel Management Co., based in Minneapolis, Minn.

He is also a director of Toro and Sit Investment Co., and a former director of General Mills, Northern States Power Co., Norwest Corp., and Ecolab.

Joe Holman

Joe Holman – Holman Enterprises

Joe Holman, chairman, Holman Enterprises, in Pennsauken, Pa., began his automotive career in 1950 after graduating from Princeton University.

Founded by Steward Holman, Joseph’s father, in 1924, Holman Enterprises currently has 15 dealerships located in South New Jersey and Florida, one remanufacturing operation, one body installation company, and ARI, Inc.–a national leasing company with over 17 locations in the U.S. and Canada.

At the request of a major manufacturer, the Holman’s formed ARI (formerly Automotive Rentals, Inc.), and have continued actively in the national leasing business since its founding in1948. Pioneers in business fleet management, ARI now manages the fleet needs of customers throughout the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean.

In 1990, Mr. Holman received a Time Quality Dealer Award. He received an award from Camden County Economic Improvement Authority in 1999.

He is actively involved in national, county, and local automobile dealers’ associations. He has served on the Lincoln Mercury dealer council, and his dealership honors include Ford’s Vice President’s 100 Club; Ford’s Distinguished Achievement Award; and the Automotive Hall of Fame Distinguished Service Citation.

His present and past affiliations include the Camden County United Way, Rowan University Foundation, and Cooper Hospital University Medical Center. He is a Life Trustee and Distinguished Fellow of Coriell Institute.

Along with his daughter, Mindy Holman, he received a Ford Motor Company’s Salute to Dealers award in 2003.

Harley Howell

Harley Howell – PHH

As the driving force behind the founding of Peterson, Howell & Heather, Harley Howell was one of the pioneers of the fleet management industry. The idea for a vehicle management plan was conceived during years of struggling with the problems of providing cars to sales and service personnel while employed, along with Duane Peterson and Richard Heather, by Butler Brothers, wholesalers of general merchandise headquartered in Chicago, IL.

While at Butler Brothers, Howell conducted extensive research to find out how other companies handled the compensation inequities and inconsistencies that plagued the car plans in use at that time. He discovered that the most practical, economical, and equitable method was for the company to provide cars for its salespeople and to reimburse them for actual expenses incurred in the operation of the cars.

In September 1945, Howell met with his two associates, who had moved to Baltimore, MD, to discuss the idea of offering their own “car plan” to organizations whose employees used cars on company business. The three agreed to spend the next several months gathering more information, refining their ideas, and preparing to launch their business venture. Then on April 1, 1946, the partnership of Peterson, Howell & Heather, Inc. opened its doors, offering complete management and leasing services for companies operating automobile fleets.

During their first year in business, they found that companies were reluctant to tie up capital in cars. In response, Peterson, Howell & Heather developed the first actual cost, no risk, no premium “finance lease” for corporate automobile fleet users. There is no way that the founders of PHH could have foreseen that their idea for: “open-end” or “finance” fleet leasing was so powerful that it would ultimately revolutionize the leasing industry.

Howell retired in 1973, and following a long bout with cancer, he passed away in 1979.

Jack Lamb

Jack Lamb – Exxon

Having solely an automotive focus in his business career enabled Jack Lamb to develop years of fleet expertise. The former fleet manager for the Houston, Texas- based Exxon Company USA, sums up his experience saying, “I didn’t deal with anything that didn’t have plates and rolled down the highway. Fleet is the only business I’ve been in and I sure had lots of fun doing it.”

Lamb first got his fleet feet wet working for ARI, Inc. Between 1963 and 1967, Lamb was in the interesting position of being an ARI employee on contract to Humble Oil, as today’s Exxon Company was known then. In his own words, his task was “to come up with a neighborhood car rental program.” Lamb learned about purchasing, sales, accounting, maintenance, and rentals.

In 1967, Lamb became an employee for Humble Oil. His first challenge was to help organize a captive leasing company. By serving as supervisor of operations for the leasing company, Lamb’s broad responsibilities gained him what he considers “his basic foothold in the automotive business, combining an administrative experience with new and used-car purchasing skills.”

In the mid-‘70s, the company changed its name to Exxon as part of its move toward establishing an international marketing identification. Lamb retired from Exxon in July 1986.

Sam Lee

Sam Lee – Lee Fleet Management

The late Sam Lee enjoyed a long and distinguished career as one of America’s foremost leasing innovators and strategists. He worked as the country’s first fleet dealer, developed an innovative replacement program, took a hand in starting PHH, and helped originate NAFA.

Born and educated in Canada, Lee got his start in the automotive industry through Chevrolet dealerships, first in New York and then in Chicago, Ill. In 1948, he organized Lee Fleet Management, Inc., and later moved the operation from Chicago to Cleveland, Ohio, where he had purchased a Ford dealership. This company became one of the largest fleet and equipment leasing firms in the nation.

Lee helped established lease companies improve their operations, and assisted car dealers in the organization of their lease departments. Following the sale of his own companies, Lee organized the Fleetway System in California, installing lease departments in eight different states. This program was eventually merged into the Chevway system, organized by Lee for Chevrolet.

Lee passed away in 1985.

Milo Matick

Milo Matick – Piemonte Fleet

Milo Matick’s career in the automotive industry began at an auto parts retail store in Los Angeles, Calif. From there he worked as a retail lease salesman for AAA Leasing, leaving the company as used car manager to join Avis Car Leasing, then Grand Rent A Car, an Avis franchise in Los Angeles, as fleet manager.

Matick helped pioneer the sale of daily rental repurchase units through dealerships. After accepting a position with Hertz as fleet and distribution manager, he and his family relocated to Chicago, Ill.

In 1971, Matick joined the Al Piemonte dealership in Melrose Park, Ill. as fleet sales manager. While at the Al Piemonte fleet department ( renamed Piemonte National Fleet in 1996), Matick ultimately rose to the position of vice president of fleet. During his 32 years at Al Piemonte, he was instrumental in building and maintaining one of the most sophisticated, full-service fleet sale departments in the industry. He was the recipient of Ford Motor Co’s highest level of sales recognition award.

Matick was also vice president of AFLA.

He passed away on Aug. 6, 2003, of a massive heart attack at his “cabin” in northern Minnesota. He was 65.


Emerson Parker – Hartford Fire Insurance

Emerson Parker was the fleet administrator for the Hartford Fire Insurance Company fleet. He is widely acknowledged as being one of the trail blazers in the fleet management profession and played a part with an establishment of the basic methods and programs, which represent the foundation of the present industry, and also played a part in the establishment of fleet management as a recognized profession.

Parker pioneered the concept of annual fleet replacement, along with S. Lester Landau of Picker X-Ray and Ray and Jack Sibley of USF&G. During this era, the “standard” replacement cycle was usually 40,000 miles or two years. Parker negotiated with “strategic” dealers around the county in the late spring and early summer for next year’s model cars on a trade/cash difference basis for a “guaranteed” price, subject only to factory increases and a “guaranteed” trade-in allowance for a one-year-old vehicle, with the same model specifications as the new car.

Lester Landau

S. Lester Landau – Picker X-Ray

S. Lester Landau, one of the founding members of the National Association of Fleet Administrators (NAFA), passed away Sept.28, 2004 in Philadelphia.

Landau helped found NAFA in 1957 while working as the budget director for Picker X-Ray in White Plains, N.Y. where among other responsibilities; he managed the company’s fleet. He worked at Picker’s X-Ray from 1949-1974.

Landau was also a founder of the NAFA Foundation and served as the organization’s first president. In addition, he served as NAFA’s treasurer for the association’s first 17 years. During his years with the NAFA Foundation, Landau spearheaded an effort to create a fleet management certification program at major business schools across the country. Landau worked closely with the administrators and faculty of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania to create the Wharton Certified Automotive Fleet Manager program.

NAFA honored Landau for his service with Honorary Lifetime Membership and the Distinguished Service Award, the association’s highest honor.

After leaving Picker X-Ray, Landau worked for English Electric from 1974-1979 in the finance department. He retired in 1979 to start an independent real estate consulting company, where he worked until just prior to his death.

Landau was born July 3, 1920 in Belle Harbor, N.Y. He graduated with a degree in political science from Brooklyn College in 1942. Although unable to attend to enter military service due to prior poor eyesight, he joined the War Assets Administration upon graduating from college.

Landau attained the civilian rank equivalent of colonel. Landau was married to his wife Helaine, for 58 years. She passed away Aug. 17. Two daughters, Jackie and Lisa; a son, Don; and five grandchildren survive Landau.

Hubert Ryan

Hubert Ryan – Hertz Leasing

In leasing lore, Hubert Ryan and the Hertz Corp. are inextricably intertwined. In 1934, Ryan ventured into the vehicle leasing business as an office boy with a truck leasing company called Metropolitan Distributors. Then in 1955, he joined Hertz when they bought Robinson Auto Rental, a Philadelphia, Pa., car leasing company. The operation was then moved to Chicago, Ill., where Ryan began nearly two decades as vice president and general manager of the Hertz Car Leasing Division.

When Ryan first arrived in Chicago with a fleet of 2,000 cars which Hertz had acquired from Robinson Auto Rental, his orders were to expand the fleet as quickly as possible. At that time, the sales force consisted of two people who covered the U.S.

By 1973, at the time of Ryan’s retirement from Hertz, the sales force had grown to 35 people and the fleet had grown to over 30,000 units. Ryan was a cofounder of AALA.

Armond Schoen

Armund Schoen – Wheels Inc.

Armund Schoen, Wheels Inc. (formerly Four Wheels) co-founder and Zollie Frank’s brother-in-law, was a key player in keeping the company a “family operation.” Besides the fact that Schoen brought sales experience and marketing savvy to the company that gave birth to the automotive fleet leasing industry in Chicago, Ill., in 1939, his partnership with Frank helped make Wheels a more personal, dedicated company.

In an earlier interview with Automotive Fleet, Schoen recalled how the industry really began to grown when the then-small group of separate companies realized there was strength in unity.

“At the time, this being around 1955, we were all facing common problems–things like federal and state tax matters, insurance regulations, and licensing and registration compliance. We all anticipated a host of additional regulations. Well, all the members of the industry got together to see if we could do something about it. We organized and began a lobby to make ourselves heard...and that was the beginning of AALA.”

Today, the American Automotive Leasing Association, of which Schoen became the first president, represents national, regional, and local vehicle lessors from all parts of the country.

Bob Soell

Bob Soell – Suntrup Ford City

Ninety-year-old Fleet Manager Robert (“Bob”) Soell of Suntrup Ford City, Inc., a dealership in St. Louis, Mo., wants to be known as a “good guy” by his courtesy-delivery customers. Numerous letters and gifts from grateful clients testify that he has gotten his wish.

Outside checking in vehicles and servicing them, Soell performs every step of the courtesy- delivery process personally. He:
  • Receives the purchase order accompanied by a draft that acts as a delivery receipt and completes the draft.
  • Serves as the point of contact with the driver.
  • Arranges with an auction to pick up a trade-in.
As a bonus, Soell uses a consumer guide created by his son, John Soell, to provide drivers useful information about their vehicles.

No task is too small for his attention. For example, he installs the license plates himself. He tries to make sure that customers don’t forget their garage-door openers, and he helps them to move items from their old vehicles to their new ones.

From 1989 to 1999, working for Kribs Ford City in St. Louis, Soell delivered 11,815 new cars and trucks, of which 1,212 were out of stock. In addition, he disposed of more than 8,000 used cars. In October 2000, Suntrup Ford bought Kribs Ford City. From October 2000 to this past June, Soell delivered 1,864 new cars and trucks. His dealership has a retail sales volume of 100-150 vehicles per month.

Career Includes Sports Promotion
Soell has performed courtesy deliveries for 22 years. Previously, he sold vehicles to national companies full-time for 35 years. (He still sells vehicles to national companies on an emergency basis.) He made the change when national companies stopped buying vehicles and began leasing them in the 1980s.

Still earlier in his career he promoted the St. Louis Blues basketball team, with the hope of establishing a basketball franchise in the St. Louis area. The Blues competed against the likes of the Harlem Globetrotters, the Boston Celtics, and the Fort Wayne Pistons (now the Detroit Pistons).

Soell says that knowing that he’s “top dog” in his field keeps him going. He adds that he has no plans to retire. A charter member of the Automotive Fleet and Leasing Association (AFLA), Soell still attends meetings whenever his courtesy-delivery schedule allows.

Ed Stanley

Ed Stanley – Oldsmobile Div.

Ed Stanley was the first-ever manager of national fleet sales for the Oldsmobile Division. He served in this position from 1964 to 1972.

Stanley was instrumental in getting Oldsmobile models listed on corporate fleet selectors. He helped launch Oldsmobile’s fleet sales initiatives, which ultimately turned the Oldsmobile Division into one of the top players in the commercial fleet market of that era.

After his term was over Wayne Ellison, Jr., took over in 1973 to 1980 as director of national fleet sales.

George Weimer

George Weimer – Contel/Hertz

An industry participant and leader since 1957, George Weimer first got into the car leasing business as a salesman for Hertz Car Leasing in Chicago, IL. Weimer left the company as vice president of sales in 1973 to become vice president of U.S. Fleet Leasing in New York, NY, where he stayed for one year. In 1974, Weimer joined Contel in Bakersfield, Calif., and was responsible for Contel’s national fleet of cars and light trucks.

At Contel, Weimer initiated the concept, fully implemented in 1982, of replacing vans and mini- pickup trucks with caps, which resulted in fuel savings of six million gallons annually. The installation of standardized cab/chassis for aerial trucks resulted in an additional annual fuel savings of 1.5 million gallons.

Weimer retired from Contel in December 1990, and is currently employed with Sovran Leasing Corp., branch office in Atlanta, as vice president in the marketing department.

Weimer has been a NAFA member since 1961, has served as chairman of the Atlanta chapter, and has been a seminar leader at various NAFA functions. In addition, he is past president of the Automotive Fleet and Leasing Association (AFLA).

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