Jim Conner, the founding president of James W. Conner Fleet Services, a fleet vehicle buying service, and a past president of the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA), died on Jan. 24, following a long battle with cancer. He was 68. Conner was a resident of Canton, Ga., at the time of his passing.
Conner started his 40-year career in fleet sales working as a fleet manager at various dealerships including Tyler Automotive in Niles, Mich.; Jerry Biggers Chevrolet in Elgin, Ill.; Village Ford in Bolingbrook, Ill.; Jim Link Chevrolet in LaGrange, Ill.; and Van Dahm Lincoln Mercury and Hawkinson Ford in Oak Lawn, Ill.
In the early 1980s, Conner started his own fleet vehicle buying company, James W. Conner Fleet Services, which he operated until his retirement in 2008. Conner was very active in both NAFA and AFLA. He served as the president of AFLA from 1990 to 1991.
“I ordered vehicles and equipment from Jim for over 20 years that would be drop shipped throughout the country,” said Betty Kelly, manager, vehicle acquisition for American Leasing Corp. “Jim was a joy to do business with because he made everything so easy. I was sorry when he retired.”
Conner’s expertise extended beyond fleet sales. “Jim would also design and create equipment for installation in vehicles, including heavy-duty trucks, which would go through Adrian Steel or other body companies,” added Kelly.
In his personal life, Conner was a lover of animals. When he retired from fleet sales, Conner started a pet care business called Critters & Jitters Pet Sitting/Walking in Canton, Ga.
“I have always had pets in my family: dogs, cats, birds, lizards, frogs, fish, a horse (German Warmblood-Hessen mare show jumper, my daughter's horse, but my pet!) and recovering wildlife,” said Conner in an interview with the AFLA Spec Sheet newsletter.
“It was only natural for Jim to take his love for animals to the next level,” wrote Rick Nicoletti of the Napleton Fleet Group, who interviewed Conner for the article.
“I was looking for something that I would enjoy and look forward to doing every day,” said Conner. “The look on the faces of my animals when I come to take care of them warms my heart.”