Managing the Financial Side of Commercial Fleets

Former Fleet Manager of the Year Walsh Dies

March 23, 2015, by Mike Antich


Pierce Walsh, whose fleet career included working as a fleet dealer, fleet manager, and fleet service provider, passed away on March 16. He was 83.

Walsh was director of fleet management for IC Industries, Inc. when he was named Automotive Fleet’s 1986 Fleet Manager of the Year. At the time, he was the second person to have received this award. Walsh managed a fleet of 5,077 vehicles at IC Industries, which was a multinational corporation owning a variety of companies such as: Pet Inc., Pepsi-Cola General Bottlers, Midas, and Illinois Central Gulf Railroad.

In 1969, Walsh was one of the founding members of the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA). He served as AFLA president from 1975-76.

Walsh was a graduate of Notre Dame University, where he received a bachelor of arts degree in English. After graduating from college, Walsh worked in the mortgage loan and real estate investment department of Prudential Insurance Co. This experience allowed Walsh to break into the banking industry and he subsequently worked at major financial institutions in Buffalo, N.Y., Chicago, and Indianapolis. While working at the Indianapolis bank, Walsh was contacted by a Chicago car dealer in 1968 to start a fleet and leasing department at a Buick dealership, which he accepted. Under Walsh’s sales leadership, the Buick dealer became the second largest Buick fleet dealer in the U.S.

Later, Walsh accepted a position with Borg-Warner Corp. before joining GELCO, then the largest fleet leasing company in the U.S. (GELCO was subsequently purchased by GE Capital Fleet Services.) Walsh was hired by GELCO to be the in-house fleet manager for its client, IC Industries. Although a GELCO employee, Walsh worked at IC Industries’ corporate office managing the diverse, decentralized fleet operations of its seven operating divisions. While the outsourcing of fleet management is common today, then, it was a revolutionary fleet management solution that GELCO pioneered and Walsh implemented. A year later, Walsh was hired by IC Industries as a full-time employee.

Following a successful career with IC Industries, Walsh joined Armour-Dial Corp. in Phoenix, Ariz., where he retired in 2001. Walsh and his wife Lynne moved back to Chicago and later relocated  to Punta Gorda, Fla., in September 2014.

“When I think of Pierce I see him in his blue blazer, gray slacks, and a tie that often included Dalmatians on it. Of course, he also had a drink in his hand! He was always a true gentleman. He always made you feel very special,” remembers long-time friend Rick Nicoletti, general manager of the Napleton Fleet Group. “Another legend from the fleet industry is gone.”

By Mike Antich

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  1. 1. Barry [ March 23, 2015 @ 10:37AM ]

    He was always a gentlemen and a friend the instant he met you. RIP Pierce!

  2. 2. Joe Gholston [ March 24, 2015 @ 01:06PM ]

    Pierce Walsh was one of my favorite guys ever. "In the day", IC Industries/Pierce was maybe the largest purchaser of Plym Caravelle's ever. The Pierce engineered IC Industry deal with Chrysler (along with the Xerox & Tupperware deals) brought Chrysler Fleet into continder status. I inherited the IC account, a few years later, in '88.

    Soon after arriving in Chicago as a rookie Regional Acct Mgr, I called Pierce for an appointment. I suggested 10AM - Pierce said, "no, let's make it 11:30". I arrived at IC building on time, and got to his office at 11:35. As I was setting my briefcase down, Pierce stood up and said,"lets go downstairs to lunch". As we walked into the resturant, he signaled his favorite waiter, and while being seated by the hostess, a martini magically appeared in front of Pierce. Of course I said, "I'll have one of those" - big mistake. Pierce ordered a salad and another martini - I raised my hand too, and also ordered lunch. I don't remember eating at all. By the time we got back to his office, I couldn't even find my briefcase much less conduct business. It was a good thing that he said - "everything is great with Chrysler. When are you coming to see me again?" I stumbled to the elevator at about 1PM.

    I had made two afternoon appointments which I cancelled as soon as I could find the IC building lobby phone. I sat in the lobby and dozed for two hours, until I felt lucid enough to drive back to Naperville. I don't believe I ever ate lunch with Pierce again (on purpose).

    Our friendship continued well after he and Lynn moved to Arizona. What a great guy Pierce was!! I am blessed by his friendship.


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