Chuck Parker, CEO and publisher of the Automotive Information Network (AIN) Media, the fleet industry’s first all-digital publishing company, passed away on Sept. 21, 2022. He was 88.
In 1998, Parker created the Automotive Information Network, which published the web magazine AutomotiveDigest.com, and distributed nine market segment e-newsletters. It was based in Manhattan Beach, Calif.
Prior to this, Parker worked for Bobit Business Media, where he served as the publisher of Auto Rental News magazine and held the role of director of electronic media. During his tenure with Bobit, Parker also developed the industry’s first end-user remarketing conference (the Conference of Automotive Remarketing – CAR), which was launched in 1996 to address the high volume of off-lease units that entered the wholesale market during the early years of retail leasing.
Parker was a true visionary especially in the area of remarketing. Parker organized the legendary remarketing industry luncheons at Spaghettini restaurant in Seal Beach, Calif., hosting many of the industry’s top remarketers. This was a seminal event that was the precursor of the CAR Conference and the precursor to the founding of the International Automotive Remarketers Alliance (IARA), an alliance of automotive remarketers.
In August 2001, Parker was named the first executive director of the IARA. During his tenure, IARA focused on creating an organization structure based on the creation of 10 industry-oriented committees, the development of the Web site www.iaraonline.org, and presided over a 300% increase in IARA membership.
Parker was born in Sheridan, Wyoming. Both of his parents were school teachers. Shortly thereafter, the family bought a farm in Eastern Oregon. Parker’s father’s interest in vocational agricultural science grew and he began studying the subject at a nearby university. Upon completing his studies, he relocated the family in 1946 to the island of Molokai located in the Hawaiian chain of islands At that time, Hawaii was still a U.S. territory and would not achieve statehood until 13 years later. Parker was 12 years old when his family moved to Molokai. Although it was difficult living in Molokai as a non-Hawaiian, Parker persevered and was ultimately elected student body president at Molokai High School. While living in Molokai, each week, Parker would read every issue of TIME magazine cover to cover, He was fond of saying that his hero was the famed journalist Edward R. Murrow.
Upon graduating high school, Parker was encouraged by his father to enroll in Oregon State University to study agricultural science, which he did for two years, but then transferred to UCLA, where, in 1956, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and government. While attending UCLA, Parker enrolled in the Navy Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program.
Upon graduating from UCLA, Parker entered the U.S. Marine Corps as a second lieutenant. After earning his pilot wings, Parker was assigned to an attack squadron in Edenton, N.C. While in the Marines, Parker flew the then-state-of-the-art A-4D Skyhawk attack jet from both aircraft carriers and naval bases. Parker was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 1959.
Parker’s entry into the fleet industry occurred when he accepted a job with Avis, which, at the time, also owned National Car Rental. He quickly rose through the ranks to become vice president. During his first year with the company, National operated a fleet of 1,800 vehicles and by Parker’s fifth year, the company’s rental fleet had grown to 52,000 units.
This achievement caught the attention of John Rollins, who recruited Parker to be president of the Auto Leasing Division of Rollins Leasing in Wilmington, Del.
There was also an entrepreneurial side to Parker. In 1980, he and three other partners started the LeMans Group in Lancaster, Pa., which was ultimately purchased by Fiserv Automotive Solutions.
Upon the sale of the company, Parker joined US Fleet Leasing based in San Francisco, Calif., where he worked until he joined Bobit Business Media.
Parker is survived by his first wife Esther and their children Cheri, Brad, and Andrea, grandchildren Hannah and Noah, and, as he would say, his accomplished and creative wife of 30 years Nancy Edwards.
“Chuck said he would never retire or stop trying to make a difference,” said Edwards. “He was working on his latest passion until his last few days, his website FixesandSolutions.com, posting about important global and local issues and what was being done to fix them.”