MINNEAPOLIS – Henry Paetzel, manager, automotive services, has retired from General Mills after a 38-year career with the company. He was in charge of the General Mills fleet for 30 years. Paetzel was the winner of the 2004 Automotive Fleet Professional Fleet Manager of the Year Award.
Besides managing the General Mills fleet, Paetzel’s additional responsibilities included managing the business traveler car-rental program – a shuttle service that moves employees between campus locations – and the employee auto service center operation – a Firestone-like concept with an eight bay garage, six gas pumps, and a car wash. In addition, Paetzel was instrumental in helping to merge the Pillsbury fleet into General Mills following the acquisition of the company in 2001.
Upon graduating in 1967 with a B.S. in business from the University of Minnesota School of Business, Paetzel, a native of St. Paul, Minn., accepted a position with General Mills, a major food corporation that produces such brands as Betty Crocker and Cheerios.
In 1968, Paetzel began his career in the corporation’s management-training program, which ultimately placed him in the transportation department to work on an automobile tracking system (at that time, the system used IBM cards).
In 1970, the fleet supervisor left the company for personal reasons and the then-manager of the transportation department, Jim Rowe, offered the position to Paetzel. At that time General Mills’ primary fleet cars were the Ford Galaxie 500, Chevrolet Impala, and Plymouth Fury III. The fleet size was about 1,100 units and all vehicles were leased.
In 1976, Paetzel was promoted to manager, automotive fleet services, and was responsible for the purchase, administration, and sale of company vehicles (fleet size was about 1,400 vehicles).
In 1985, supervision of the employee automotive service center was added to Paetzel’s responsibilities, and in 1988, he assumed responsibility for the car-rental program for the business traveler.