One thing we in the fleet sector can count on is opinions. My experience is that (especially) during industry reception functions, the conversation inevitably turns to one of the current factory fleet directors. They are, individually and collectively, the unquestioned "Dalai Lamas" of our segment of the automotive world.
Our editorial planning team was as excited as some of my "old time" fleet managers about polling for the "best." The statistical question was how far back in years could we go to include in the study. Our records (AF Fact Books) date back to 1967, but there really isn't a significant group of fleet managers to poll with that kind of longevity.
Fleet Veterans Contacted
We finally determined we could develop an e-mail database, primarily of commercial fleet managers, who have been in that position for at least a dozen years. Then, we began researching the actual OEM fleet directors over the past 15 years. The list was amazingly long.
Ford led with seven different leaders; Chrysler had six, and GM, Toyota, and Nissan each had five during this period. The only "survivor" to hold that top spot for the entire time was Charlie Reed from Subaru. The only female to make the list was Christine Cortez from Chrysler, who rose into corporate management.
In mid-August, we e-mailed nearly 200 questionnaires to the highly qualified survey list and received 157 votes at our cut-off date. We asked respondents to choose their top five "favorites," explaining their top vote selection received five points; the second favorite received four points, and so on. Twenty-two of the 29 names on the ballot received at least one vote. (The questionnaire was "aided-recall" with all names shown to choose from.)
Top Choice a Close Call
The winner for the top spot was a close call; only one point separated the No.1 and No. 2 winners. Here are the winning tallies.
1. Ray Fisher - Chrysler.
2. Brian McVeigh - GM.
3. Hal Feder - Ford.
4. Dave Hansen - GM.
5. Pat Dougherty - Chrysler.
6. George Frink - GM.
Because of the relatively rapid turnover at the fleet director position and with the "managing director" actually in daily contact with accounts, we also asked recipients to vote for their top three "No. 2s," again listing the names of the candidates.
Here are the top four results:
1. Jerry Frick - Ford.
2. Bill Gibson - GM.
3. Joe Gholston - Chrysler.
4. John Ruppert - Ford.
Congratulations to the winners and our thanks to those who participated in the voting process.