Managing the Financial Side of Commercial Fleets

Celebrating 14 Years of Fleet Executive Recognition

January 2016, by Lauren Fletcher - Also by this author

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

Since 2001, Fleet Financials magazine has been recognizing exemplary fleet executives through the Fleet Executive of the Year Award.

The Fleet Executive of the Year award was created to recognize exceptional leadership by managers who have a title of vice president or higher who have other responsibilities beyond fleet.

“A great fleet executive creates a vision, articulates the vision, and empowers their team members to implement the strategies to achieve the vision,” said Mike Antich, editor of Fleet Financials magazine. “These qualities are demonstrated by all of our award winners each year.”

Since its inception, the award has been exclusively sponsored by The CEI Group.

“The CEI Group and DriverCare felt very privileged that Bobit Business Media approached us to sponsor this some 14 years ago. I was proud to become associated with the Fleet Executive of the Year Award at that time, and am even more so after all these years,” said Wayne Smolda, CEO and founder of The CEI Group. “In the fleet business, engaging higher-level management is vitally important, so it’s fitting that their support for outstanding achievements be recognized with an award. We all know that it takes a team to invest and deploy fleet assets that support the role of field employees in any organization. While fleet managers do a great job facilitating this highly specialized area of operations, it requires top management to have a keen understanding of the business goals of investments in fleet assets involvement both to rationalize and pay for them. When they do, fleet management profession’s role becomes clearer both within the organization and the industry at large. We are happy to invite executives to fleet management, and rewarding these professionals with the Fleet Executive of the Year Award is the best way to demonstrate this.”

Over the years, more than 70 fleet executives have been nominated and only 14 highly qualified individuals have been named the best of the best. All nominees are reviewed by a panel of industry judges who evaluate submissions using a comprehensive set of criteria, including cost-saving initiatives, policy setting, creation of innovative programs, and cultivation of fleet manager training and management.

Below is a synopsis of each winner since 2001, and what he or she did to earn the recognition of the industry:

2001: Michael Gallucci, Glaxo Wellcome


The first-ever Fleet Executive of the Year award was presented to Gallucci. His innovative input in overseeing the fleet operations helped ease the company’s merger with SmithKline Beecham.

During the merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham, Gallucci worked to bring in fleet best practices. He worked to ensure a focus on policies and procedures, identifying the best practices from each company and merging them into one.

Actions he put into place included selecting a fleet management provider, developing a new selector menu, designing policies and procedures for vehicle replacement periods, selecting a fleet card program, and merging the two companies’ driver safety programs.

To manage this massive undertaking, he helped organize a cross-functional team comprised of key members of the fleet groups from both Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham. He partnered with the director at SmithKline, who also had responsibility for fleet operations, and acted as co-chair of the cross-functional team.
Throughout the merger, Gallucci ensured clear and concise communication, and always worked toward the goal of creating the best of both companies into one fleet.

2002: Tim Hoffmann, 3M Company


Hoffmann was awarded the second-annual Fleet Executive of the Year award for his “textbook” example of how talent and hard work pays off.

At the time, Hoffmann was in the 30th year of his career at 3M Company. As the staff vice president of administrative services, his team oversaw a total of 24 departments encompassing 120 disciplines and 680 staff.

Hoffmann worked to ensure a close relationship and interaction with the fleet management function.

Hoffmann believed in “transparency” in fleet management to be successful, noting that successful fleet management involves providing service to the drivers and departments who depend on the vehicles to do the job without fanfare, and, often, without recognition. Because of that, he worked hard to ensure that the fleet function didn’t go unnoticed at 3M.

2003: Jeffrey Smith, PPG AutoGlass


In 2000, PPG Industries and Apogee Enterprises merged their automotive replacement glass distribution businesses into a single entity, known as PPG AutoGlass LLC. Thirty months later, Smith transformed two diverse fleets into a single smaller, more efficient fleet.

Smith reduced the fleet size by 25 percent and included more cost-efficient vehicles into the fleet mix.

After implementing several safety programs, the fleet’s 2002 accident rate was 30-percent below 2001. Working with PPG’s fleet management company, then known as GE Fleet Services, Smith successfully controlled and reduced costs.

He also worked to demonstrate the benefits of extending the useful life of vehicles. As a result, PPG AutoGlass vehicles remained on the road 25-30 percent longer than before Smith’s involvement. Likewise, the monthly costs of keeping vehicles on the road dropped by approximately 15 percent under Smith’s leadership.

2004: Gordon Campbell, Tyco Fire & Security


At the time of his award, Campbell was a leader in the fleet industry, having recently combined the Simplex and Grinnell fleets within 30 days by challenging and communicating with vendors. Campbell also founded a formal vendor committee for Tyco Fire & Security with planned regular meetings.

Among his responsibilities at Tyco, Campbell supervised real estate transactions, was in charge of travel management and events planning, as well as procurement and fleet management for more than 450,000 vehicles worldwide.

Campbell utilized his fleet knowledge and insight, and belief that fleet operations require consistent attention to managing the fleet process at Tyco.

2005: Mike Dingman, ValleyCrest


Since joining the ValleyCrest Companies in 1979, Dingman managed the integration of fleets from 15-20 company acquisitions, including four major acquisitions from 2001 to 2005 (four years).

At the time of his award, Dingman efficiently managed the highly diversified fleet’s continually changing profile while containing costs. He cited his ability to build key relationships with suppliers and fleet management firms as critical to the fleet’s successful operations.

Active in industry and community organizations, Dingman lectured at numerous industry-related conferences and appeared on expert panels. In addition, he authored several articles for industry publications.

2006: Theresa Ragozine, Johnson & Johnson


After assuming responsibilities for Johnson & Johnson’s fleet, Ragozine reduced costs in the face of a fleet that nearly doubled in size. At the time of her award, she directed a comprehensive re-engineering of the $125 million domestic expense.

An innovative, dedicated, and strategic fleet director, Ragozine focused on developing strategic plans to drive costs out of her company’s business while continually pursuing safety and driver satisfaction.

Among her accomplishments, Ragozine instituted Deals on Wheels, a multi-national employee sales Intranet site, contributing to nearly $25 million in fleet savings at the time of her award. She performed a rigorous analysis of all major expense categories, reducing operating costs by more than $25 million over a five-year period.

Ragozine also developed a flexible replacement policy that resulted in some of the industry’s lowest effective depreciation rates.

Additionally, she utilized a total cost of ownership analysis and reverse auction to gain a full understanding of the annual buy strategy with the auto manufacturers, a strategy recognized by manufacturers as the most rigorous and comprehensive analysis they had experienced. She also developed a European leasing platform unique to traditional leasing concepts in Europe.

2007: Vic Stewart, Advanced Auto Parts


In 2006, the Advance Auto Parts fleet grew by 18 percent, from 6,100 units to more than 7,250, with no staff increase. Stewart and his team worked internally with the company’s transportation department and an outside vendor to execute an equipment purchase-leaseback that generated $3 million in revenue for Advance in the fourth quarter of 2006.

Stewart’s team worked with risk management and commercial sales to develop and implement a safety program, resulting in a 10-percent reduction in accident claims per commercial delivery truck in 2006 vs. 2005. The program led to an operating cost avoidance of more than $2 million.

Because out-of-stock purchases drove up costs, the team restructured acquisition processes and reduced stock purchases from 11 to 3 percent from 2004 to 2005, to less than 1 percent in 2006, resulting in two-year savings of more than $50,000. Working with manufacturers, the team expanded the company’s light-duty truck pool, providing new vehicles within four weeks and achieving a 99 percent on-time delivery rate in 2006.

Stewart also led his corporate purchasing/fleet team to a negotiated savings target of more than $20 million, achieving $24 million in negotiated annualized savings, of which 40 percent was fleet-related. Stewart’s team changed the company’s vehicle replacement procedures to include license plate transfers by the delivering dealer to the new vehicle on all future vehicle replacements in states that allow this practice, which resulted in additional savings for the company. The team continued to architect the company’s fuel strategy and executed bulk diesel fuel contracts for more than 3.5 million gallons of diesel fuel.

2008: Pete Silva, PepsiCo


At the time of his recognition, Silva’s 25-year career with Frito-Lay/PepsiCo led him to the position of director of fleet procurement. Silva was in charge of negotiating agreements with truck, car, fuel, and maintenance providers, and for fleet agreements for all PepsiCo entities, including Frito-Lay, Tropicana, Naked Juice, Anchor Bottlers, and a number of independent Pepsi bottlers. At the time, the U.S. fleet size totaled more than 45,000 units.

PepsiCo tested hybrids in 2005, and, with senior leadership support and direction, the company opted to convert its company car fleet to hybrids. Silva developed new fleet/business policies and strong vendor relationships to promote a smooth transition. In 2007, PepsiCo tripled the number of hybrids in its sales fleets, decreasing the overall emissions by approximately 10-12 percent per vehicle.

Additionally, Silva supported the Frito-Lay North America division’s delivery truck redesign from conventional step vans to commercial cutaway vans, providing significant capital savings ($30 million) over a two-year process.

He also facilitated the implementation of new technology in the PepsiCo Tropicana division, eliminating refrigeration units on its refrigerated delivery trucks and reducing fuel usage and emissions while maintaining product integrity.

2009: Satish Natarajan, Aramark Uniform & Career Apparel (AUCA)


At the time he was recognized, Natarajan was responsible for the management of a 6,000-vehicle fleet that supported business operations at nearly 250 locations across North America for Aramark Uniform & Career Apparel (AUCA). Additionally, he supervised a staff of 110 fleet managers, analysts, and technicians that oversaw the procurement, maintenance, disposal, project management, and compliance of the AUCA fleet.

Natajaran and his team implemented standardized shop diagnostic tools in all AUCA shops across the U.S.; centralized the truck procurement process; designed a Web-based asset management tool; employed a maintenance management tool that tracks work orders, parts inventory, and vehicle maintenance; moved to a single, nationwide vendor to keep processes more fluid; developed a green fleet strategy that includes a pilot program for compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles and hybrid trucks; set continuous benchmarking standards; and incorporated ongoing learning and training development tools for fleet managers.

2010: Mike Lahr, LKQ Corp.


Lahr was responsible for the procurement of company vehicles at LKQ Corp. at the time he was recognized, as well as negotiations of small parcel services, less-than-truckload (LTL), truckload, and third-party logistics companies.

Lahr developed the World Class Logistics Network to boost efficiency, reduce cost, and improve customer service in shuttle network and network delivery.

He also headed the corporate purchasing programs and developed overnight services to LKQ customers from 300-plus facilities by utilizing multistate shuttle networks.

In 2009, while the company grew by 7.3 percent, distribution costs as a percent of sales reduced by one-half of a percentage point.

2011: Dean Yerem, Nestle


Yerem is responsible for delivering competitive advantage, value, and results to all Nestlé operating companies in North America, including Nestlé Waters North America, Nestlé Purina PetCare (U.S. and Canada), Nestlé Canada, L’Oreal (U.S. and Canada), and Nestlé USA as well as for Nestlé Mexico and other global initiatives. He is also tasked with developing relationships with suppliers while emphasizing value and monitoring performance.

Yerem has implemented several fleet initiatives over his three-year term working in fleet. His efforts, along with his team, led to significant projected savings for U.S.-, Mexico-, and Canada-based operations. Adjustments in selector lists and a focus on more fuel-efficient vehicles will lower CO2 emissions by more than 3,000 tons each year. In the company’s new global strategy, he supported fleet and purchasing managers at Nestlé Mexico to develop and adopt fleet policies and programs by sharing North American best practices.

In 2009, Yerem led an initiative in the U.S. and Canada that created a reduction of more than 300,000 gallons of fuel, reducing emissions by 15 percent and resulting in savings for the company. This three-year plan is currently on track to deliver the savings targets.

In 2008, when gas prices were at record highs, Yerem adjusted Nestlé’s selector list to four-cylinder models to reduce fuel and overall capitalized costs. Fleet reduced emissions by internally promoting eco-friendly driving through continual driver education and communication.

With resources from Nestlé’s fleet management company, he is currently working on the analysis of closed-end leasing and a funding shift to a self-funding model along with a comprehensive safety program in the final stages of approval. Yerem’s leadership philosophy emphasized open communication among his team and senior management. This environment fosters teamwork and sharing of practices, good or bad. Senior management and the fleet team work together on all fleet initiatives.

He also collaborates with safety, environmental, and risk departments as the fleet safety program chairperson. 

2012: Maggie Cole, Monsanto


Cole was director of environmental, safety & health (ESH) for Monsanto, responsible for the Global Vehicle Safety and Global Off The Job Safety programs, as well as U.S. Commercial ESH at the time of her award. The Global Vehicle Safety Team works closely with the regional fleet management teams and DOT function (within the U.S. operations) to align policies to address vehicle requirements, driver policies, and training requirements within each of the regions.

The integration of the Global Vehicle Safety program and the Global Off The Job Safety program enabled the sharing of Monsanto’s vehicle safety training, tools, and resources with company drivers, other employees and their families, the communities in which they live and operate, and with its customers. Monsanto performs semi-annual “Click Heard Around The World” seat belt checks at all global locations, raising awareness and rewarding seat belt usage. This practice is taken to local schools along with a Seat belt Convincer or a driving simulator and “X The TXT” thumb bands to raise awareness of seat belt usage and the dangers of texting with teens in our communities, as well.

Monsanto launched a global vehicle database in 2010 to capture mileage by vehicle and driver, as well as accidents and incidents at the same level of detail. This system has enabled it to streamline data entry to provide key information, driving continuous improvement efforts and focus areas for training and awareness.

Cole obtained her Six Sigma Black Belt certification in 2000 followed by Master Black Belt certification in 2003 and was certified as a Lean Practitioner in 2005. She also served on the Board of Directors for the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS).

2013: Jerome Webber, AT&T


Webber was named the 2013 award winner, and, at the time, was responsible for AT&T enterprise-wide fleet operations, including policy, strategy, environmental and regulatory compliance, and operational effectiveness for fleet repair and maintenance across 50 states; two U.S. territories, and 20 plus countries internationally.

He also directed vehicle replacement capital planning, vehicle acquisition and disposition, vehicle specifications and upfit, dispatch and vendor call center, bill payment, vehicle registration management, fuel management, fuel card administration, and emergency fueling restoration.

Additional responsibilities included project management, development, implementation, and tracking of AT&T’s alternative-fuel vehicle (AFV) commitment, fleet sustainability initiatives, and promotion of public compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling infrastructure.

Webber effectively integrated AT&T’s diverse legacy fleets following the acquisition of BellSouth in 2006, and the consolidated ownership of Cingular Wireless and The 18-month fleet standardization initiative involved 19 project opportunities, ranging from tire procurement, parts, preventive maintenance intervals, waste fluid disposal, electronic billing, and call center consolidation.

In 2009, Webber spearheaded key strategy and deployment plans for AT&T’s corporate commitment to deploy approximately 15,000 alternative-fuel vehicles (AFVs) by the end of 2018. In 2013, AT&T’s corporate fleet was comprised of approximately 10 percent AFVs, the majority of which will never consume a single drop of gasoline. This fleet is one of the largest dedicated alternative fuel fleets in the nation.

In 2010, under Webber’s leadership, AT&T awarded the most comprehensive vehicle repair and maintenance contract in its fleet history. The company transitioned from multiple regional providers to one national provider, which allowed it to take advantage economies of scale, focus on cost reduction, streamline processes, and deliver a high level of service to their internal clients.

In addition to AFVs, the team implemented its Leaner Cleaner Smarter strategies. This multifaceted approach to fleet management included lighter, more sustainable materials in vehicle specifications, reduction of garage waste streams, and integration of data into its operations.

2014: Ingrid Joris, Ingersoll Rand


At the time of her award, Joris’ responsibilities included payroll, pension, 401K, talent acquisition, electronic HR, global mobility, employee contact center, lean deployment, HR support services, and last, but not least, fleet.

Joris’ responsibilities included the overall executive leadership and sponsorship of fleet operations optimization, resulting in multi-year $4-million-plus in productivity savings while increasing employee recruitment, retention, and engagement, and significantly improving driver risk management and driver-tax compliance.

Additionally, Joris managed the HR Operational Services (HROS) value proposition with the mission of supporting the business and fostering employee relations through top-tier customer service, process excellence, risk mitigation, and economic value. Ingersoll Rand has harmonized policies, processes, and fleet strategy across the strategic business units.

She ultimately reduced the business’ bottom line and drove down fleet’s labor costs to customers. This path included sustainability gains on improved average mpg of the fleet and a decrease in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

2015: Michael Bieger, ADP


Bieger has been in the fleet industry since 1996, first with the pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-La Roche, and, most recently, as senior director of Global Procurement for ADP.

At the time of his award, Bieger was responsible for ADP’s global logistics spend, leads procurement’s BPI initiative, having led four such engagements in one year, and directed the North American fleet team of three associates (two in the global HQ and one offshore associate in Manila), managing more than 1,100 sales vehicles, as well as leading a global Procurement team in managing an EU fleet of 1,105 vehicles across 12 countries.

For 2015, his team continued with ADP’s global fleet CO2 reduction plan; every one of the MY-2015 vehicles adopted by the fleet was either a hybrid or clean diesel rated at a minimum of 40 mpg. This initiative, which seeks a maximum CO2 output of 140g/km, has seen a 20.8-percent increase in average fleet fuel economy from 24.9 mpg to 30.1 mpg with savings of more than $400,000 in ADP’s current fiscal year.

The ADP team also launched a global safety initiative, which included the creation of a safety council with members from fleet, risk management, legal, sales, and HR; piloted a telematics program for at-risk drivers; and promoted new guidelines for hiring drivers. Globally, this year saw the introduction of FMCs in two European countries, and consolidated global agreements with four preferred manufacturer groups.

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