This year marked the 50th anniversary of the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA) corporate fleet conference, which meant another year of recognizing some of the most outstanding names in our industry. Erin Gilchrist of Safelite AutoGlass more than earned her spot as the Edward J. Bobit Professional Fleet Manager of the Year, and Kenneth Jack of Verizon Communications earned the Fleet Executive of the Year Award with more than 25 years of fleet experience under his belt.
Also fitting for this year were the honorees of the Fleet Hall of Fame: Joe LaRosa, Bob Miesen, Theresa Ragozine, and the late Bud Morrison were all inducted into the Fleet Hall of Fame. Each of these honorees has a quality that makes them a perfect choice for the 50th anniversary of the association. Joe is a past Fleet Manager of the Year winner; Bob is an honorary lifetime member of AFLA, AALA, and NAFA; and Theresa, and Joe, are both pioneers in the profession of global fleet management.
Bud, however, was not only one of the most successful fleet salesmen of all time but he also served as AFLA’s first president and helped pave the way for the success AFLA is seeing today. Though he passed away in 1992, his legacy lives on in the strength of the Association, which has thrived for a half-century.
This year marked another record high in attendance for the Association’s annual conference, so its fitting that these names join the ranks of the industry greats.
And while its great to honor those who helped shape the industry, it’s just as important to recognize those who are new to the industry, which AFLA does with the annual Fleet Visionary Awards. This year looked at the fourth annual class of Fleet Visionary’s and gave us another a chance to get to know some up-and-coming fleet professionals.
With as much buzz there is about how much fleet will change in the coming years, it’s fitting to have the Fleet Visionary awards honor become a new staple of the AFLA conference. It’s people like Sharon Etherington, the 2019 Fleet Visionary of the Year honoree, who will be part of the industry as the conversations around mobility and vehicle connectivity become standard commercial fleet initiatives, rather than concepts to prepare for.
It’s impossible to attend great fleet events like AFLA and not get caught up in why it has helped make the industry so great, but equally exciting is seeing how much the association is ready to take on the evolving industry that is fleet. The next chapter of the fleet industry is looking to be as impressive as the last.