Managing the Financial Side of Commercial Fleets

In Memoriam: Coach's Insights

An Enigma No More

March 25, 2011, by Ed Bobit - Also by this author

Joe Gholston in Austin, Texas.

A lot of the fleet community knows Joe Gholston, the pivotal sage at Chrysler Fleet in Detroit. I think I’ve known him for maybe 20 years and have never found anyone who doesn’t like him and respect him as I do.

Joe’s an incredible fountain of knowledge. He knows the product inside and out; not only the current product but the old product and the yet to come product. He’s intimate with each of the Fleet Management Companies and how they serve their accounts. He has a memory that everyone envies and, like me, wishes it could be immolated. He also knows the professional and social ‘skeletons’ in people’s closets and has the discipline to keep them secret to himself.

Most of all, and importantly, he has that warm and sincere relationship with all the fleet manager accounts and finds the time to be personable, thoughtful and ‘on the dime’ responsive to the client’s needs. He’s one of those unique individuals who can seemingly listen to a presentation with one ear and be texting an answer to someone with his thumb; all day long.

My personal admiration of Joe dramatically increased during these past few years when Chrysler faced some insurmountable obstacles. There were leadership changes, financial setbacks, personnel cuts and shifted assignments, all culminating with the new opportunities the company now possesses.

During that clouded period Chrysler was fortunate to have Pete Grady and Pat Dougherty who had the fortitude to lead through difficult circumstances. It was also fortunate that Joe Gholston was ‘Joe’. He was the glue that held the new and old field reps together and never wavered sharing knowledge and wisdom internally as well as instilling a positive attitude for the future with accounts externally.

Now, the ‘enigma’ part. I’ve always liked Joe, and I believe that we had good karma together. But it took me years to develop a kind of closeness that I try to create with people I really like. I couldn’t quite get to that ‘close’ level for many years. Then it happened. I reflect now that while the two of us have never discussed why it took so long, I know why.

I’m ‘press’; yes we are media and do a lot of reporting. I think that Joe never quite trusted me with ‘inside’ stuff. I chalk this up to his fierce loyalty to his employer, which I particularly admire as a quality among people. Eventually I’d like to believe that he found me to be not much different than himself and we’ve been real buddies ever since.

With this background, it was especially rewarding for me to view a special presentation by Pat and Pete at the Chrysler Fleet Product Preview this week in Austin, Texas, recognizing Joe for his 40 years of devoted service. With all 300 fleet people enthusiastically clapping in honor of Joe, it gave me a most satisfying feeling for a good friend duly noted by the industry.

Shortly afterward, he entered the reception; see photo above.


  1. 1. Sue Miller [ May 12, 2011 @ 08:00AM ]

    Ed, your talent for expression and description of others is unsurpassed. Had I been present in Austin I would have been standing in ovation for Joe. He is a solid professional and true gentleman who consistently adds significant integrity to our industry and Chrysler. Congratulations Joe on 40 years!!

  2. 2. Brian McVeigh [ May 25, 2011 @ 06:04AM ]

    Nice note on Joe - a quality guy and a credit to the fleet industry.

  3. 3. Tim Weber [ June 13, 2011 @ 06:24PM ]

    Hi Ed, I don't know if you'd even remember me since I have been retired from Columbia Gas Distribution Companies for 12 years now but I couldn't say anything better about Joe Gholston. He was and still is a great guy and I can only reflect positively about my contacts with him. Of course that goes as well for all of his predecessors such as Hal Barton, John MacDonald and even Lee Iacocca and Bob Lutz during their reign at Chrysler. It was a 'great run' for which I can only be thankful for having had the opportunity to enjoy contacts with Joe and many other great fleet personnel as well as you and your staff. Best regards, Tim Weber.

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Author Bio

Ed Bobit

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Former Editor & Publisher

With more than 50 years in the fleet industry, Ed Bobit, former Automotive Fleet editor and publisher, reflected on issues affecting today’s fleets in his blog. He drew insight from his own experiences in the field and offered a perspective similar to that of a sports coach guiding his players.

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