Three new Fleet Hall of Fame inductees were announced at the recent Automotive Fleet and Leasing Association (AFLA) annual conference in Palm Springs, Calif.
Hall of Fame inductees are recognized and applauded for the “indelible mark each has made within the commercial fleet management profession,” according to AFLA. Industry leaders and pioneers all, each also has more than 10 years of fleet experience. Their peers select them through an online voting process.
This year’s three honorees join the 94 others inducted into the Hall of Fame since it was established in 2008. The program is sponsored exclusively by AFLA and presented by Automotive Fleet.
The 2023 Fleet Hall of Fame inductees
Vice President, Connected Car and Platform Services, Geotab / Telogis / University of Ohio / Wendy's
Years in Fleet: 25+
Sherry Calkins has spent her entire career in fleet, beginning as a fleet administrator for government and corporate fleets, supervising total fleet operations acquisition, leasing and remarketing to maintenance facilities, fueling, alternative fuels, safety, and vendor partnerships.
Following a stint as operations manager for Penn State University, Calkins moved to Ohio University as director of transportation and parking, where she implemented a driver training program that reduced the number of crashes.
Joining fast-food company Wendy’s International, Calkins applied her fleet knowledge and experience to five global fleet divisions.
Active in NAFA and AFLA, Calkins has promoted women in fleet, serving as a reliable and knowledgeable mentor for many fleet professionals. She is a member of the board of the Hourglass Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to providing educational scholarships for first-generation and underserved students in the areas of auto tech, automotive engineering tech, and skilled trade programs, such as HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and construction.
She encourages colleagues and mentees to become active in industry associations.
“There is so much value to be gained in networking and collaboration with our colleagues. You will continue to learn, evolve, and grow in the industry through connections,” she explains. ‘Many of us start in the fleet industry with little knowledge, and I have found networking with other fleet professionals has been the best way to stay on top of the latest technologies and strategies.”
Vice President, GM Envolve/General Motors
Years in the industry: 39
Recently retired, Ed Peper served nearly four decades for General Motors.
He started as a Cadillac sales trainee in 1984 and held 17 positions at GM, including U.S. Vice President, Fleet & Commercial Sales. In this role, Peper’s extensive experience and deep understanding of fleet were critical to shaping the success of GM Fleet.
Before his tenure at GM Fleet and GM Envolve, Peper served as general sales manager for Cadillac, general manager and vice president for Chevrolet, general manager for GM’s Northeast Region, and VP-Sales for Saab Cars USA. Peper and his teams sold nearly 23 million vehicles during his GM career.
He was instrumental in creating GM’s new business-to-business brand, GM Envolve, which launched in May. The new unit is described as a "one-stop" experience for vehicle sales, providing access to GM’s portfolio of commercial products and services across multiple divisions.
Throughout his long career, Peper was noted for his excellent relationship with dealers, customers, and GM internals, consistently earning high “Workplace of Choice” engagement scores.
General Manager, Commercial Vehicle Sales and Marketing, Ford Motor Co. / Director of New Business Development, Adrian Steel Company
Years in Industry: 35+
John Ruppert worked 33 years with Ford Motor Company, with the last 17 years in Ford’s fleet and commercial sales operations and retiring from the automaker in 2020 as General Manager Commercial Vehicle Sales & Marketing.
When Ruppert joined the Ford fleet organization, Ford was No. 2 in commercial and government fleet sales, but during his tenure, the company regained the top sales position, an achievement maintained for more than a decade.
Ruppert was involved in vehicle product evolutions at Ford Fleet that reshaped the commercial fleet market. He directed the introduction of the 2010 Transit Connect, an all-new segment to the North American market. He also led the team that managed the transition from the E-Series van to the full-size Transit van, which debuted in 2014.
During Ruppert’s tenure, the Ford team redefined the police interceptor market, transitioning from the body-on-frame V-8 RWD Crown Victoria to a unibody V-6 AWD Taurus and Explorer Police Interceptors. In 2019, the industry’s first hybrid pursuit-rated model debuted in the law enforcement market — the hybrid Explorer.
In 2015, Ruppert’s sales team spearheaded the return of Ford medium-duty truck manufacturing to the U.S. with the 2016 Ford-produced F-650 and F-750, powered by an all-Ford powertrain that featured a choice of diesel and gasoline engines.
Ruppert was also instrumental in developing the Commercial Vehicle Center Dealer Network, the successor to the earlier Business Preferred program.
Ruppert was active in industry associations such as the AFLA Board of Directors and the NAFA Foundation and Affiliates Committee. He was a member of the NTEA advisory board and a long-time member of AALA and TRALA.
Following his retirement from Ford, Ruppert joined Adrian Steel, another family-owned company, where he serves as director of new business development.
Ruppert is an inspirational leader passionate about building relationships with employees, customers, and industry business partners.