In no particular order, the 2022 Global Fleet Hall of Fame inductees are:
Theresa Ragozine earned the distinction as the first industry professional to hold responsibility for a global fleet in 1997, when she assumed the role of worldwide commodity manager for Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) 33,000-vehicle global fleet.
Globalization, she says, was the most challenging and rewarding part of that new role, where she evolved “from a tactical to a very strategically driven global fleet program.” A global focus allowed Ragozine and her team to harmonize supplier relationships, export learnings across regions and adapt to changes, ultimately leveraging the scope of J&J for “vastly improved programs, customer experiences, and financial effectiveness.”
Ragozine, named the first female Fleet Financials Fleet Executive of the Year in 2006, cites a total cost of ownership approach (TCO) as her team’s most impactful work.
“Most important, we contemplated the effects on our customers before making big changes, and the TCO shift actually delivered better cars for less, which translated to happy customers!” she recalls.
Ragozine recommends today’s global fleet professionals set a few critical priorities and focus “relentlessly on driving progress.”
“Think unconventionally and question everything!” she advises.
Ragozine, who was active in NAFA, AFLA and OEM and fleet management company advisory boards, supports seeking a few great industry mentors. “We all need sounding boards and a hand-up to perform at our best. And, the best way to become a great mentor – which you should strive to do - is to have strong leads to follow.”
In retirement, Ragozine serves on the School of Arts & Sciences Advisory Board at Rutgers, her alma mater, helping to drive strategic initiatives. She recently launched an internship at J&J for rising Rutgers junior-year students, making the initial critical connection between academia and industry.
Active in the New York Blood Center since 1981, she is member of the Board of Trustees, Executive Committee and Chair of the Compensation and HR Committee.
Travel – Italy is a favorite destination – is another item on Ragozine’s retirement bucket list. And, following yet another lead from a favorite boss at J&J, she’s “attempting to read my age in books starting this year. Suffice it to say, it’s a lot of books.”
Dennis LaLiberty, vice president of international marketing for Wheels Inc., retired in 2002 after 43-year career in the fleet management industry, spent entirely at Wheels. He held positions in sales, marketing and client services, and ultimately assumed responsibility for international business development.
Described by colleagues and industry partners as outgoing, warm, sharing, and a motivating mentor, LaLiberty is “thrilled to have my name included among such a distinguished list of people involved in fleet management and honored to be included in the Global Fleet Hall of Fame.”
Most rewarding in his fleet career was working with clients “to achieve fleet effectiveness and economy along with driver safety and satisfaction.”
Also fulfilling were building productive relationships with fleet managers, helping them achieve their company goals, and “mentoring Wheels employees who have gone on to successful careers within the company.”
A final highlight was developing international capability and contacts to better serve the needs of Wheels’ globally operating client base, LaLiberty recalls.
He advises fleet managers and strategic sourcing personnel: “Determine your company’s goals and priorities regarding the use of fleet vehicles, then educate yourself on the markets in those countries in which your company needs fleet vehicles. Finally, develop relationships with key elements in those markets, e.g., vehicle manufacturers, fleet management companies, maintenance providers. Become familiar with legal, regulatory, and financial issues in those countries.”
He recommends employees of companies serving fleets work on understanding the role fleet vehicles serve in a client’s business operations and how fleet management services can positively impact cost control and reduction, ease of administration, operational safety, driver performance, and satisfaction.
A 20-year retiree, LaLiberty keeps busy with volunteer activities. While serving on the board of a private grade school in a low-income neighborhood on Chicago’s West side, he is also involved with a small, private charity helping poor families in Guatemala. For his high school alumni association, he writes a lengthy annual newsletter.
An avid walker and golfer, LaLiberty spends the winter in Florida with the families of his only daughter and eldest son.
Jim McCarthy, who once imagined a career as professional baseball umpire, retired in 2015 following a 31-year career with multinational industrial manufacturing company Siemens as director of vehicle management services.
Among McCarthy’s accomplishments was building Siemen’s Shared Services organization. He and his six-member team successfully consolidated 23 company fleet operations worldwide under a business model in which the organization sold its services to Siemens companies and joint ventures. Shared Services brought value to the company through economies of scale, centers of expertise, global standards, and best practices.
Pulling together so many different fleet operations, with their own cultures and politics, was no easy feat, McCarthy recalls. Key to the effort were two established fleet leaders – Nick Cino in Canada and Norbert Wiedmann in Europe. In North America and throughout Europe, the two were “catalysts” in negotiating for Shared Services amid multiple cultures and brand identities, says McCarthy.
Ultimately, McCarthy and his team overcame the companies’ initial reluctance by defining Shared Services as a partner, working with each fleet organization to provide value to Siemens. “We spent time with each, clearly identified expectations and measurements, and established accountability.”
McCarthy, named Automotive Fleet’s 2005 Professional Fleet Manager, offers the following advice to current and would-be global fleet managers: “Form partnerships wherever and whenever possible to ensure all partners have some “skin in the game,’ and that all are on the same page with the same mission.”
Secondly, McCarthy counsels, “Communicate, communicate, communicate! Make sure expectations on all levels are clearly stated, and results are consistently shared. “
He adds, “Market your successes upward and highlight the benefits your group brings to the business. By the same token, don’t be afraid to put issues on the table. Be open and honest, and collaborate to solve problems and/or inefficiencies.”
In the absence of a college degree in fleet management, McCarthy recommends reading and evaluating industry media from all angles to stay current with industry trends.
“Immerse yourself in market information; attend industry conferences; become part of the future by joining fleet planning groups like steering councils and advisory boards. Surround yourself with professionals. Listen and learn. And pay it forward – become the mentor for the new generation of fleet mentees.”
Mike Antich was noticeably touched at the prolonged standing ovation he received upon induction into the Global Fleet Hall of Fame this June. Yet, few others in fleet have been such a well-known industry observer, information source, and advocate of industry professionalism.
Editor and associate publisher for Automotive Fleet magazine, Antich has been reporting on and providing analysis of the fleet industry for more than 37 years, writing and editing 5,000-plus articles on fleet management.
His participation in and contributions to fleet are many. An active member and leader in important industry groups, Antich has served on or chaired numerous boards of directors, advisory groups, special teams, and committees. He was twice-elected president of Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA). In 2010, Antich was inducted into the Fleet Hall of Fame and in 2021 was presented the Industry Icon Award by International Automotive Remarketers Alliance and the National Auto Auction Association.
A keynote speaker at industry gatherings around the world, Antich has been an organizing force for many fleet-related meetings, including the Global Fleet Conference, launched in 2013; the annual Conference of Automotive Remarketing; and the Fleet Safety Conference.
Antich became involved in the growing global fleet market early in the 2000s, particularly as European trade and economic borders loosened. He attended international fleet conferences and served as an observer on global fleet alliances. Chairing AFLA’s global committee, he helped establish an alliance with fleet groups in Australia, China, Mexico, and the UK.
The journalist created his own global fleet advisory board, currently numbering 40 members. The online group meets monthly to focus on fleet issues in a particular world region.
A “key secret” to Antich’s extensive industry knowledge and experience has been his ability to listen. “I listen more than I speak,” he notes. He also documents “everything,” gathering industry news, facts, figures, and trending details from his international network of friends and colleagues, many of whom follow his digital and video blog posts.
In addition, “I really try to be in contact with people,” says Antich. With close to 9,000 fleet-only contacts on LinkedIn, he has found the social media platform a “huge opportunity” for remaining in touch with the industry.
His non-publication responsibilities include being actively involved with a variety of fleet and remarketing industry associations. He is a long-time member of the board of directors for the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA). He served as AFLA’s president from 2008-2009. He is the recently elected AFLA director of strategy and continues as the chairman of the AFLA Globalization Committee where he was instrumental in creating the first-ever Global Fleet Networking Consortium comprised of five international fleet associations.
He is also a long-time member of the board of directors and an officer for the International Automotive Remarketers Alliance (IARA). He was the Alliance’s long-time secretary and chaired its public relations committee. In addition, he was the past chairman of the IARA certification task force, which developed the industry’s first-ever certification program for vehicle remarketers.
Antich is an international speaker and has spoken at numerous industry conferences, client advisory councils, and fleet sales meetings.
“As the editor of an industry magazine, I am in contact with thousands of fleet managers,via my LinkedIn network around the world. I believe this wide-ranging network of fleet professionals allows me to have an accurate pulse of the industry and helps identify emerging trends that will impact fleets. I believe my network of fleet professionals allows me to bring insightful feedback to AFLA based on my dealings with all segments of the commercial fleet industry.”
Congratulations to all the 2022 Global Fleet Hall of Fame inductees!