Pierce Walsh, whose fleet career included working as a fleet dealer, fleet manager, and fleet service provider, passed away on March 16. He was 83.
Walsh was director of fleet management for IC Industries, Inc. when he was named Automotive Fleet’s 1986 Fleet Manager of the Year. At the time, he was the second person to have received this award. Walsh managed a fleet of 5,077 vehicles at IC Industries, which was a multinational corporation owning a variety of companies such as: Pet Inc., Pepsi-Cola General Bottlers, Midas, and Illinois Central Gulf Railroad.
In 1969, Walsh was one of the founding members of the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA). He served as AFLA president from 1975-76.
Walsh was a graduate of Notre Dame University, where he received a bachelor of arts degree in English. After graduating from college, Walsh worked in the mortgage loan and real estate investment department of Prudential Insurance Co. This experience allowed Walsh to break into the banking industry and he subsequently worked at major financial institutions in Buffalo, N.Y., Chicago, and Indianapolis. While working at the Indianapolis bank, Walsh was contacted by a Chicago car dealer in 1968 to start a fleet and leasing department at a Buick dealership, which he accepted. Under Walsh’s sales leadership, the Buick dealer became the second largest Buick fleet dealer in the U.S.
Later, Walsh accepted a position with Borg-Warner Corp. before joining GELCO, then the largest fleet leasing company in the U.S. (GELCO was subsequently purchased by GE Capital Fleet Services.) Walsh was hired by GELCO to be the in-house fleet manager for its client, IC Industries. Although a GELCO employee, Walsh worked at IC Industries’ corporate office managing the diverse, decentralized fleet operations of its seven operating divisions. While the outsourcing of fleet management is common today, then, it was a revolutionary fleet management solution that GELCO pioneered and Walsh implemented. A year later, Walsh was hired by IC Industries as a full-time employee.
Following a successful career with IC Industries, Walsh joined Armour-Dial Corp. in Phoenix, Ariz., where he retired in 2001. Walsh and his wife Lynne moved back to Chicago and later relocated to Punta Gorda, Fla., in September 2014.
“When I think of Pierce I see him in his blue blazer, gray slacks, and a tie that often included Dalmatians on it. Of course, he also had a drink in his hand! He was always a true gentleman. He always made you feel very special,” remembers long-time friend Rick Nicoletti, general manager of the Napleton Fleet Group. “Another legend from the fleet industry is gone.”
By Mike Antich