Dan Frank (right) along with Bobit Business Media Group Publisher Sherb Brown (center) congratulates AF Professional Fleet Manager of the Year George Survant. Photo courtesy of AFLA.

Dan Frank (right) along with Bobit Business Media Group Publisher Sherb Brown (center) congratulates AF Professional Fleet Manager of the Year George Survant. Photo courtesy of AFLA.

While this seemed to be the year of the autonomous vehicle, fleet management certainly isn’t on autopilot. Fleet managers today are dealing with an ever-increasing amount of change and complexity.

A Year of Change

After many years of deliberation, new accounting standards for leases were finally released. Some states have changed their requirements for vehicle registration, making driver compliance more demanding. A more proactive National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has increased the number and complexity of recalls and changed methodologies for evaluating the safety of vehicles. As Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards continue to increase, the design and cost of vehicles continues to change.

In addition, technology continues to impact our industry. The evolution of new transportation models like Uber, the advancement of autonomous vehicle technology and associated regulations, the introduction of new safety technologies, greater vehicle connectivity and the threat of hacking, cyber security and privacy issues, and the growing distraction and benefits of mobile devices continues to test our industry in understanding and maximizing the benefits of these advancements.

Adapting to Change

Oftentimes this rapid pace of change needs to be tackled with fewer resources. As a result, fleet managers must have many different skills, requiring expertise in risk management, information technology, operations, HR, and procurement. As the breadth of fleet managers’ skills continue to grow, being nimble and creative is more important than ever to grab hold of today’s exciting challenges.

Recognizing Vision

The AF Professional Fleet Manager of the Year Award recognizes and shows appreciation for fleet managers who have shown leadership and success in tackling these issues. Reviewing the list of nominees for the award this year, there was a wide and impressive array of industries, fleet experience, leadership styles, and success stories.  

Congratulations to George Survant, senior fleet director at Charter Communications, along with the many other qualified nominees. They are called upon to embrace change and ask the hard questions to successfully execute their vision and continue to shape the fleet industry. George is a visionary leader who — today and over the past 40 years — has tackled business and fleet challenges head on, taken leadership positions within the industry, and has been at the forefront of sustainability in particular. He is a great example of the impact many fleet managers in our industry are having in running safer, cleaner, and more productive fleets.

We are fortunate to work in an industry that cooperates well and where we all have the opportunity to learn from each other. The media organizations, industry associations, fleet management companies, OEMs, suppliers, and fellow fleet managers have always worked well to understand and address the challenges that face our industry. While keeping up with the pace of change in the fleet industry is demanding, it is also what makes our industry interesting and creates new opportunities for all of us.

Dan Frank is the president of Wheels Inc., and leads virtually all of Wheels’ business units. He is also president of Wheels Leasing Canada, Ltd., and is chairman of Ixe Fleet, Wheels’ joint venture in Mexico.

Editor's note: This article first appeared in the November 2016 issue of Automotive Fleet.