There were a lot of new faces at the 2017 Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA) Conference in Las Vegas, and we also had an incredible award ceremony honoring individuals for making the grade in the industry.

John Dmochowsky of Mondelez International won our Fleet Manager of the Year award over some great competition, including Lee Jezek-Pierce of Weatherford International and Phil Samuelson of USIC. Our Fleet Executive of the Year was Caryn Helmandollar of Ferguson Enterprises, which was presented by Wayne Smolda and the CEI Group as always, who also won out over an incredible cast that included former Feet Manager of the Year Lynda Dinwiddie of LabCorp.

We also had an incredible Hall of Fame induction ceremony honoring one of the great all-time classes, which included Ron Mawaka Sr., founder of Fleet Response. He is a good friend and a great father who was lucky enough to be introduced by his son Scott at the conference, who is the current CEO and owner of the family business.

David Hansen, general manager of GM Fleet & Commercial Operations in the late nineties and early 2000s, was also honored. Dave is a guy who is not only a Hall of Famer but also a shoo-in for one of the top spots when we build the Mount Rushmore of all-time great OEM fleet directors.

Our third Hall of Fame inductee was Steve Bloom of Enterprise Fleet Management, a guy that built a great business for the Taylor family and a guy, along with all other FMCs, who wished he would have stuck to renting cars.

The conference had a record number of commercial fleet manager attendees as well as a record for overall attendance. The founders of AFLA would’ve been really proud to see how far the AFLA Conference has come since its founding back in the 1960s. One thing that was really nice to see this year was a lot of new faces among fleet manager attendees. We also saw quite a few new faces for our Fleet Visionary awards, which is sponsored by Merchants Fleet Management. We definitely have more than our fair share of very experienced individuals in our business, so it’s nice to know that there is a next generation coming up that will carry the torch going forward.

My good friend Jeff Iverson from Element Fleet Management was quick to point out that while there were a lot of new faces in the crowd, Ed Bobit would have been happy to see that it was still a “safe place” for fleet managers to mingle, to learn, and network with peers and suppliers without being overwhelmed by the crush of OEM and FMC salespeople.

The crowd was engaged throughout the conference and seemed eager to learn and network, and were quite optimistic about the future of fleet. There are a lot of big changes coming down the pike for us. Questionable CAFE standards, autonomous vehicles, connected cars, mobility, and the never ending quest for safer modes of transportation will keep us all on our toes for a long time. And it’s nice to know we’ve got places like the AFLA Conference to meet and talk about these challenges in a collaborative environment.

If you disagree, let me know.

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Sherb Brown
Sherb Brown

Sherb Brown

Sherb Brown is the vice president and group publisher for BBM's AutoGroup. Sherb has covered the auto industry for more than 12 years in various positions with Bobit Business Media.

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Sherb Brown is the vice president and group publisher for BBM's AutoGroup. Sherb has covered the auto industry for more than 12 years in various positions with Bobit Business Media.

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