The theme of the 2013 Automotive Fleet and Leasing Association (AFLA) conference, "Courage, Commitment, Accountability: Driving Fleet Excellence," heralded a successful event, with more than 400 attendees — a new record!
I'd like to thank outgoing AFLA President Tom Callahan for his outstanding service and leadership, and all the members of the Conference Committee and Commercial Fleet Manager Sounding Board for their suggestions and insight. In addition, I'd also like to thank Membership Committee Chair Mike Antich and the entire committee for surpassing our membership goal for 2013, which also brought us additional attendees.
Another big thank you goes to Ed Pierce and the Communications Committee for promoting the meeting through various outlets, including the monthly Spec Sheet newsletter, the AFLA website, and social media. Their efforts to get the word out are vital to the success of the conference.
The Education Committee and its Chair, Mark Petersen, deserve another big vote of thanks for providing AFLA members with such great educational material throughout the year by producing valuable white papers and informative webinars. AFLA members acknowledge membership value by actively contributing to the success of the Association throughout the rest of the year.
The Sponsorship Committee, led by Immediate Past President Theresa Belding, secured a high level of support from our sponsors for the conference activities and social events. Thanks to all of our sponsors as well! You are a great team, and kudos to everyone for a job well done!
I'd also like to thank the staff and editors at Automotive Fleet and Bobit Business Media for producing the superb magazine, the AFLA Spirit, which was mailed before the conference to AFLA members and Automotive Fleet subscribers as well as handed out at the conference. It was a wonderful overview of AFLA's history, programs, and services. Automotive Fleet also afforded us multiple opportunities to promote our conference in print and online, and was a factor in our record-setting attendance.
The conference sessions were informative, motivating, and instructional. We will take back many valuable and practical lessons for our everyday use. The keynote speakers covered a wide spectrum of topics from cars of the future to resale marketing trends and legislative forecasting.
We also heard a rousing inspirational call to teamwork from Lt. Col. (ret.) Rob "Waldo" Waldman. General Charles Wald provided an in-depth look at the critical role energy plays in shaping America's defense posture, and Margo Oge, former director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), provided insight into the CAFE standards she helped design. We were proud to have such a powerhouse lineup of speakers on our program.
After an intensive membership survey and with input from Women in Fleet Management (WIFM), the Conference Committee and Commercial Fleet Sounding Board, special pre-meeting workshops were held on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning. All three workshops were resounding successes, with overflow attendance at the WIFM session on "Communicating Your Personal Brand" and the Wednesday morning workshops on green fleets and generational diversity.
I always hear so many comments about the wonderful connections and lifelong relationships formed at the AFLA meeting. We truly value our members' input and will review the evaluations to make sure we provide members with the best possible education and networking opportunities in the years to come.
We invite every AFLA member (and non-member — we'd love you to join) to submit your suggestions and opinions. We also need volunteers willing to serve on our committees. Please contact Bill Elliott, AFLA's executive director, to offer your ideas or volunteer. In case you missed the conference, check out the photos and recap at the AFLA website. Click on Spec Sheet Newsletter Archives and look for the September issue.
Thanks to everyone for your support and for attending the AFLA 2013 conference. Mark your calendar for next year's conference, Sept. 8-10, 2014, in Las Vegas at the M Resort Spa Casino. I know Brian Barber, the incoming 2014 Conference chair, and the rest of the Conference Committee will design a wonderful program. See you there!
John Dmochosky is the president of AFLA.