Automotive Fleet magazine and the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA) are proud to announce the 2020 nominees for the Fleet Hall of Fame.
These nominees all have over 10 years of industry experience and through the years have impacted the fleet management profession.
Honorees inducted into the Hall of Fame will be announced at the 2020 AFLA conference, which will be hosted virtually this October 5-7, 2020.
Inductions into the Hall of Fame happen once a year. Entering the Hall of Fame recognizes industry leaders and pioneers who have contributed significantly to the commercial fleet management profession.
Inductees are selected by their peers through an online ballot. This ballot will be available on Automotive-Fleet.com.
Lee Miller, Boehringer Ingelheim
Miller is the associate director, fleet services for Boehringer Ingelheim, and has been in the industry for roughly 40 years. Within the company, she managers over 3,183 leased vehicles. She won the title of Professional Fleet Manager of the Year in 2012. She’s held several leadership positions in NAFA and AFLA over the years and served on several client advisory boards. She also served on AFLA’s Commercial Sounding Board, Conference Committee, and was a past AFLA secretary.
John Dmochowsky, Mondelez International / Kraft Food Groups
Dmochowsky served as the senior global fleet manager for Mondelez International and fleet manager for Kraft Foods Group, which Mondelez was spun off. He retired in April 2020, culminating a 36-year career with the company and Kraft Food Groups. Among his career highlights was taking home the 2019 European Safety Fleet Manager of the Year Award and being named a runner-up in the 2019 Global Fleet Manager of the Year category. He has also served as an AFLA president, and received AF’s Professional Fleet Manager of the Year Award in 2017.
Gordon B. West, NAFA / Pfizer
Gordon B. West served as NAFA President from 1991-1993 and then as Trustee – Past President from 1993-1995. His long list of service was recognized in 1995 when West received NAFA’s Distinguished Service Award – the Association’s highest form of recognition bestowed upon those with exemplary professional and personal contributions to the industry, society, and/or community. A former instructor with the CAFM program, he was instrumental in developing the program’s finance and accounting section. He retired from Pfizer, Inc. as corporate fleet manager in October 2001, where he worked for 30 years.
Pat Dougherty, FCA
Dougherty helped reorganize and restructured Chrysler Fleet Operations into a more dynamic, competitive and customer-focused partner to the fleet industry, and he helped double Chrysler Commercial Fleet sales through a more aggressive sales presence in the industry. He also helped lead the transition of Chrysler’s top selling front-wheel drive vehicles to a successful program for a rear-wheel drive platform. He is also responsible for the transition of the Sprinter to the Dodge Brand, triggering the rapid growth in that fleet segment. He also set the foundation for what continues to be FCA fleet operation’s leadership team.
Arthur Liggio, The CEI Group / First Advantage / Driving Dynamics
Liggio has dedicated more than 30 years to the fleet industry. He began his career in insurance and risk management and now serves as the CEO and president of Driving Dynamics. He has been guided by a passion for elevating awareness and improving the capabilities of all drivers on the road and with a focused commitment to helping organizations greatly improve their fleet safety performance.
Larry Palmer, National Car Rental / Wheels Inc.
Palmer entered the industry in 1967 as the fleet maintenance manager for Lend Lease Transportation Co., which eventually became the car leasing division of the National Car Rental system. When it was sold in 1986, he was hired by Wheels, Inc. as an assistant to the VP of remarketing, before later being elevated to VP of remarketing and later to SVP-vehicle operations. During his career, he helped implement a variety of computerized benchmarking, reporting, and forecasting methods now standard in remarketing. He was also active in industry associations such as AFLA and NAFA, and inducted into the National Association of Fleet Resale Dealers (NAFRD) Hall of Fame in 1995. He joined NAFRD as a consultant after retiring in 1999.
Irving Singer (Deceased), Merchants Fleet
Singer believed that client service was the cornerstone of the fleet business. In 1962 he founded Merchants Automotive Group and since then the company has grown into two separate business units: Merchants Fleet and Merchants Auto. Merchants Fleet is staple of the fleet business and operates as the eighth largest fleet management company. Alongside growing his company, he was dedicated to philanthropic efforts in his community.
Carolyn Edwards, LeasePlan USA
Edwards has 30 years in fleet with LeasePlan USA. In that time, she has served as director of strategic accounts for client services; director of operations for vehicle acquisition; VP of manufacturer relations and business solutions for client relations; and now serves as SVP, client success. In 2012 she helped found the Women in Fleet Management (WIFM) Task Force, an avenue to provide women in fleet leadership with resources and opportunities for personal and career development. She has helped take WIFM international, with recent panels at Australian and Canadian fleet conferences. Since then, WIFM has experienced dramatic growth in both female and male membership and is now aligned with AFLA. .
Sal Giacchi, CAFM, CFM (Deceased), GAF/Lorillard/Giacchi & Violi Transport Ltd.
In 1971, Giacchi became assistant fleet administrator with GAF. In 1974, he was selected to head the used-car operation and used-car marketing network. In 1981, he moved to Lorillard Tobacco. He was named AF Fleet Manager of the Year in 1996, and also previously served as president for AFLA and NAFA. In 2001, he joined Anthony L. Violi Sr. to form Giacchi & Violi Transport Ltd.
Tom Callahan, Donlen / Ford / GE Commercial Finance
Callahan is currently president of Donlen, spearheading strategic direction, growth, and customer satisfaction initiatives. He began his career at Ford, where he held various sales and management positions. Additionally, he held global leadership positions with GE Commercial Finance – Fleet Services and GE Consumer Finance. Callahan served as AFLA president from 2012 to 2013 and is currently part of the Hertz senior management team.
Bob Berke (Deceased), NAFA
Berke took over full-time management of NAFA as the association’s founding executive director in March 1965. He spent his entire career with the Association during its growth years until retiring from NAFA in 1985.
Kathy Croze, Hughes Aircraft Co. / Computer Sciences Corp. / The CEI Group
Croze began her career in fleet as a division fleet administrator with Hughes Aircraft Company. During her time with the company, she created the first driver safety training program and van pool program. She later joined Computer Sciences Corporation in 1981 as a fleet and travel manager. Croze served as CEI’s Western region sales manager from 1991 to 2018.
Paul Lauria, Ernst & Young / MAXIMUS / Mercury Associates, Inc.
Lauria has been the president of Mercury Associates, Inc. since 2002. Mercury, the largest dedicated fleet management consultancy in North America, has helped hundreds of public and private-sector organizations improve their fleet management practices. Lauria, who has worked in more than 20 countries around the world, began his consulting career with Ernst & Young’s National Transportation Consulting Group in 1984.
Russ Cass, The Hawk Group / Piemonte National Fleet
Cass first started at Piemonte National Fleet (formerly Al Piemonte Ford) in 1976. He was later recruited into the fleet side of the business by Milo Matick, former VP of fleet for Piemonte National Fleet. Cass held this position for 26 years until 2003 when he assumed the position of fleet director. In 2018, he joined The Hawk Group (a Chicago area dealer group with 12 dealerships) to head up it’s new national fleet department.
Don Esmond, Ford / Toyota Motor Sales USA
Esmond joined Toyota in 1982 and served as corporate fleet and truck manager, and national fleet manager. He later served as VP of the large car sales team where he launched the new Camry. He retired in 2016 as sr. VP automotive operations for Toyota Motor Sales after serving with the company for more than 30 years. Earlier, Esmond had a 12-year career with Ford. He also spent six years in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving as captain, naval aviator, and helicopter pilot in Vietnam. He was awarded the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, 45 Air Medals and the Purple Heart. He currently co-chairs the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes helping veterans find meaningful employment. He is also a Director with the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation helping to provide the sons & daughters of Marines & Navy Corpsman with need based scholarships.
Kevin McGrath, Fleet Street Remarketing
McGrath entered the auto business in 1980, but struck out on his own in 1985 and formed a wholesale auto business, called RAM Auto Leasing, with friend Bob McDevitt. RAM soon transitioned to Eastern Fleet Remarketing after McDevitt moved on to another venture, and ultimately the company was rebranded as Fleet Street Remarketing to better capture the company’s new remarketing focus and global reach. He has also been a member of AFLA for more than 20 years, and served on its board of directors.
Mike Laporta (Deceased), Chrysler / ARI
Laporta left Chrysler Motors Corp. in 1976 and joined Holman as the marketing manager at Reconditioned Motors and Parts and transferred to ARI in 1981 as VP of sales and marketing. In 1984, Laporta became president. During his tenure, ARI experienced a four-fold increase in the number of vehicles under management. The company’s acquisition of Lend Lease in 1989 allowed ARI to enter the Canadian market, and Laporta also took the company into Mexico, creating a comprehensive North American presence. Laporta’s leadership led to ARI’s global alliance concept in 1994.
Jim Piccoli, Chapman Auto Group
Piccoli’s career in fleet began in 1974 as a leasing rep for Holman Leasing, and he later moved to Potamkin Chevrolet as a Truck/Fleet salesperson. In 1985, he had a brief stint as GM for Pacifico Fleet Group. He then returned to Potamkin to bring them to a national presence in 1989, and in 2008 he joined Chapman Auto Group as director of fleet operations.
Patrick (Pat) O’Connor, NAFA
As U.S. Legislative Counsel for the NAFA Fleet Management Association, O’Connor has been the voice for fleet management in Washington, D.C. for more than two decades. In testimony before Congress and federal agencies or in face-to-face meetings with lawmakers, O’Connor provides a fleet manager’s perspective on a diverse range of issues. O’Connor is leading NAFA’s efforts to shape federal requirements for autonomous and connected vehicles