Representing a collective 310-plus years of fleet experience, nine new members were inducted into the Fleet Hall of Fame during a special ceremony at last month’s Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA) annual conference. The nine inductees, all well-known fleet veterans, were selected from a field of 27 nominees.
Produced by Automotive Fleet and sponsored exclusively by AFLA, the Hall of Fame was instituted to recognize fleet industry leaders and pioneers who have contributed significantly to the commercial fleet management profession in fleet careers spanning 10 years or more.
Established in 2008 with 20 founding members, the Fleet Hall of Fame added 10 new honorees at the 2008 AFLA annual meeting. The number of annual inductees will decrease by one each year, until three are installed in 2015. Thereafter, three honorees will be inducted in the Fleet Hall of Fame at AFLA’s annual conference.
Nominations are placed in an online ballot for voting by the industry. Mike Antich, 2009 AFLA president, officiated at the induction ceremony. In addition to individual plaques, each hon-oree’s name and photograph become part of the Hall of Fame permanent display at Bobit Business Media headquarters in Torrance, Calif.
Bob Betagole, Mike Albert Vehicle Fleet Management
CEO and founder of Mike Albert Vehicle Fleet Management, Betagole began his fleet career in 1956. Under his leadership, the company has become one of the top 10 fleet lessors in the U.S., with more than 25,000 fleet units on lease in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada.
John Blessing, McCullagh Leasing
Now deceased, former president of McCullagh Leasing, Blessing served as president and chairman of the American Automotive Leasing Association (AALA), testifying in Washington, D.C. during 1985 hearings on the Federal Trade Commission’s Used Car Rule. He was also active in NAFA Fleet Management Association and AFLA. Blessing’s fleet career spanned 1969-1987.
Ed Bobit, Bobit Business Media
Remaining active in the fleet industry for more than 50 years, Bobit is chairman and founder of Bobit Business Media (BBM), Automotive Fleet editor, and a founding AFLA member. Established in 1961, BBM now produces more than 20 publications, seven targeted specifically to the fleet industry.
Stan Chason, GELCO
In a career that began in 1963 and lasted 21 years, Chason’s GELCO service included chairman, CEO and executive VP of the fleet management services division. The company was acquired later by GE Capital Fleet Services. Chason also served as AALA chairman. Chason retired from GELCO.
Dennis LaLiberty, Wheels Inc.
LaLiberty began his 44-year fleet career as a Wheels trainee after college, moving up in company hierarchy to the VP of international marketing post in 1992. He retired from Wheels Inc.
Pat Starr, Consolidated Service Corp.
Former chairman of Consolidated Service Corp. (CSC), Starr is five-decade fleet veteran. He established the industry’s first national tire account, programs for glass repair/replacement, and replacement rentals. Building CSC into the industry’s largest non-lessor fleet services company, Starr retired when CSC was acquired by LeasePlan.
Duane Peterson, PHH
One of three founders and former chairman of Peterson, Howell & Heather (PHH), Peterson’s industry career spanned fleet’s early years, 1946-1962. He pursued partnership creation and a new business model and developed and promoted the finance lease. He passed away in 1962.
Jim Rallo, PHH
A former PHH senior VP at PHH, Rallo worked more than 38 years in the fleet industry. He testified on behalf of AALA and PHH in Washington, D.C., lobbying legislators in regard to the commercial fleet industry. Although officially retired since last spring, Rallo continues to provide marketing guidance and support to AFLA.
Helen Smorgans, Johnson & Johnson
In a 24-year fleet career that began in 1964, Smorgans managed fleets for Johnson & Johnson corporate and 10 other J&J companies. She was co-founder of the NAFA New Jersey chapter and also served on the organization’s National Board of Governors. She retired from Johnson & Johnson.