As the sun settled on the horizon and the Atlantic waves brushed the white-sand beach of Hollywood, Florida, several fleet leaders were recognized for their contributions to the world of global fleet management at the culmination of the tenth Global Fleet Conference, hosted by Bobit and Automotive Fleet magazine, on June 8, 2022.
The awards were sponsored by Polestar (who also provided a Polestar 2 for the GFC Ride and Drive), and several leaders from all corners of North America were recognized.
Jaime Bringas was named 2022 Global Fleet Visionary of the Year. Bringas works for Phillip Morris International, Mexico, and is president and co-founder of AMAFA (el Asociación Mexicana de Administradores de Flotilla Automotriz), the Mexican equivalent of NAFA (the National Association of Fleet Administrators).
Bringas was instrumental in bringing a fleet certification program to Latin America, a topic he introduced at the Global Fleet Congress as part of the co-hosted LatAm Fleet Congress. According to AMAFA, which provides a networking platform for members, the certification is a significant opportunity for LatAm fleet managers who most often must learn on-the-job. The program is structured into three levels: a 15-module fleet essentials course, followed by a second course offering a deep dive into specializations, and the third focusing on professional development skills.
AMAFA has partnered with AMAVe (the Mexican Association of Vehicle Leasing Companies) to provide subject-matter expertise for the courses. According to Bringas, the program’s cost “will be affordable while delivering great value.”
The expansion of AMAFA into a national fleet association was hailed by Automotive Fleet editor Mike Antich as a “historic moment” for everyone involved.
Next, 3M was named Global Fleet Team of the Year. Mark Peabody accepted the award on behalf of his team; Peabody is global fleet leader - facilities & services at 3M.
Last, several new inductees were honored to join the Global Fleet Hall of Fame. First, Dennis LaLiberty received a warm welcome from the gathered hundreds in attendance, though he was unable to make the conference; LaLiberty is retired vice president of Wheels. Bob Gonke (pictured above), senior manager of accounts at Wheels, said a few words and accepted the award on behalf LaLiberty.
"Hearing what Dennis meant to so many in the community reinforces why I do what I do," Gonke said.
"Like Dennis, we need to make sure we are always learning, educating ourselves on world events and how that impacts the fleet space; thinking creatively and innovatively to move the industry forward; supporting and helping the next generation of fleet professionals; and paying it forward.
When I was told I'd be able to say a few words in accepting this on behalf of Dennis, I immediately reached out to some of my colleagues and peers who interacted with Dennis over the course of his 40+ year career at Wheels. The common words used in almost every response were outgoing, warm, and sharing. Two individuals called out Dennis as being 'their first mentor in the fleet industry,' and explained that his passion for both fleet and people were infectious, and got them excited to take a larger role in the fleet community."
Next, Jim McCarthy was honored. McCarthy is retired director of vehicle management services for Siemens Shared Services.
Theresa Ragozine was honored next. Ragozine is retired and former vice president of procurement for Johnson & Johnson, and spoke about how thankful she was to be honored among an industry she came to love.
Finally, Bobit’s own Mike Antich was inducted into the Global Fleet Hall of Fame. Antich is possibly the most recognized (and recognizable!) leader in fleet today, with over three decades as a Bobit employee and voice of Automotive Fleet magazine. Mentored by many of the fleet industry pioneers during his early formative years, Antich has since developed a wellspring of knowledge, good will, and progressive thinking within the fleet world and received a standing ovation to close out the awards portion of dinner.
Congratulations to all Global Fleet award winners - past, present, and future! We look forward to seeing you next year at the 2023 Global Fleet Conference.