At the annual meeting of AALA (American Automotive Leasing Association), Tom Callahan, senior advisor to Wheels and former president of Donlen, was recognized for his career of service to the fleet and leasing industries. The meeting took place Sept. 18-19 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C.
During his recognition at dinner on Sept. 18, Callahan was first introduced by Brice Adamson, president of Enterprise Fleet Management and AALA president.
“Tom, we're humbled by your professionalism and are so glad that you are here with us tonight. You have been an incredible advocate of our industry and I thank you for making me feel so welcome as I joined ALAA a few years ago,” said Adamson, before inviting Shlomo Crandus, CEO of Wheels to speak.
“We started as two competitors in family-owned businesses,” Crandus started. “We then worked to bring Wheels and Donlen together, and later LeasePlan, into a single company. In a lot of ways, it’s been about bringing them together into a single family.”
“Tom has been a collaborator, confidant, coach, and mentor. He has helped to create a dynamic culture of success, not just for Wheels, but for the industry as a whole,” Crandus concluded.
Callahan followed: “I learned this business from dealers, in part through wholesaling vehicles to them while working for Ford in North Dakota. That experience taught me to appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit and understand what good customer service truly means.”
“And through my experience with both larger corporates and family-owned companies, at the end of the day it's all about employee engagement, which leads to customer satisfaction, which leads to profit — not the other way around. If you take care of your employees, they’ll take care of the customers, and the profits will come.”
“I want to thank you all for your creativity, your energy, your passion, and your friendship,” he concluded. “This is an amazing industry. I'm humbled, honored, and know the best is yet to come for this industry.”
Crandus then presented Callahan with an American flag packaged in a commemorative frame. The flag was flown over the U.S. Capitol Building and was purchased in Callahan’s honor through the offices of U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, serving the 16th district of Illinois. LaHood is the son of Ray LaHood, the Secretary of Transportation under President Obama.
Tom Callahan’s Career
Callahan earned his bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame and a master's degree in marketing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Callahan began his career in 1980 at Ford Motor Company where he held various sales and management roles including field sales, merchandising, and operations.
He went on to hold global leadership positions in general management, sales and product management, quality, and operations in North America, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Australasia with GE Commercial Finance – Fleet Services and GE Consumer Finance.
Callahan became president of Donlen in 2008 and remained in the position until Dec. 2022. His tenure as president included Hertz’s ownership of Donlen from 2011 to late 2021.
Today, Callahan is a senior advisor and board member at Wheels, which merged with Donlen in 2021 and acquired LeasePlan earlier this year.
Callahan also served as president of the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA), from 2012 to 2013. He was elected to Automotive Fleet’s Fleet Hall of Fame in 2020.
In the Monday, Oct. 16, Automotive Fleet newsletter headline, Tom Callahan was identified as being with Enterprise. He is the senior advisor to Wheels.