The Association hit an attendance milestone at last year’s conference, which attracted more than 430 industry professionals. Of those attendees, a record 101 were commercial fleet managers.

The Association hit an attendance milestone at last year’s conference, which attracted more than 430 industry professionals. Of those attendees, a record 101 were commercial fleet managers.

This year’s Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA) Conference, themed “Innovation: Shaping Our Future for Growth,” will offer strategies and ideas for fleet professionals to become more innovative in their roles.

According to Theresa Belding, AFLA president and 2011 Automotive Fleet Professional Fleet Manager of the Year, “This is an opportunity to share innovative experiences and learn what other fleet professionals are doing to stay ahead of the game.”

Innovative Speakers & Sessions

Terry Jones, founder of travel website, is well-versed in the language of innovation. He started out as a travel agent before establishing what is now acknowledged as one of the largest travel companies in the world. Jones will deliver a keynote address sharing his knowledge about the fundamentals of innovation, including how to generate ideas, experiment, and do more with less.

Innovation has taken the U.S. automotive industry from bankruptcies and restructuring just a few years ago to a return to profitable levels. In a presentation titled, “Automotive Outlook: Back from the Brink, Now for the Golden Age,” John McElroy of Autoline Detroit will discuss how the industry has used innovation to come back from tough times leading to the present time, when car sales will likely set new records before the decade is out. Innovation has helped the industry create new technology that is transforming the automobile.

Jack Hanley, executive director of the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), is also well-versed in the language of innovation. Hanley leads NETS’ road safety efforts. His presentation will address how companies can reduce crashes, injuries, and costs. Hanley will highlight companies with the lowest collision-per-million-mile ratios and review company policies in areas such as technology, training, and cell-phone use.

Innovation has also helped the U.S. become more energy efficient in recent years. Norman Herrera, director of market development for Chesapeake Energy Corp., the nation’s second-largest producer of natural gas, will discuss how compressed natural gas fuels thousands of fleet and consumer vehicles at up to 50-percent less than the cost of gasoline or diesel.

In addition to coming up with new ideas and implementing them, innovation also means keeping a keen eye toward the future. Gene Stanaland, president of GSE, Inc., an economics and management consulting firm, has been called the “Will Rogers of economics” because of his ability to help people understand the complexity of the modern economy. His presentation will cover policies and events that led to the current challenging economy and how political decisions in Washington, D.C., will impact the economy. He will also provide a forecast for the remainder of this year and next.

The informative sessions addressing how innovation can shape the country’s future are the heart of the AFLA conference. David Hill, a partner and co-head of the global energy practice of law firm Sidley Austin LLP, will discuss “Current and Future Pathways for U.S. Energy Policy.” Hill has advised clients on energy policy, fuel, and other environmental issues. Also, Josh Linkner, author of Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity will discuss “Executing Imagination: Turning Creative Fire into Real Results.”

Network with Other Innovators

In addition to the full schedule of presentations, AFLA officials have designed the event to provide networking opportunities, including the first-time attendee/new-member reception on Sept. 10; Pete Z Golf Scramble and the Alamo City and Riverwalk Tour on Sept. 11; breakfast, luncheon, and dinner events on Sept. 11; and breakfast on Sept. 12.

For more information, visit the AFLA website at

You can also watch a video about the 2012 conference here.

Need more reasons to attend? Click here to watch the 2012 AFLA Conference promo.