DES PLAINES, IL – Wheels, Inc. hosted its first Fleet Summit, "Driving Thoughtful Fleet Solutions," last week in Arlington Heights, Ill. The summit was for Chicago-area clients and prospective clients who were interesting in hearing and sharing relevant fleet topics such as key economic trends, fleet budgets, and the economy's effect on fleet.

"In today's environment, one of the most important things we can do is to understand and develop a comprehensive fleet program focused on controlling fleet spend, without compromising the value that fleet delivers to your business. The Fleet Summit is organized to help attendees understand and design solutions to today's fleet challenges," said Scott Pattullo, senior vice president of sales & marketing at Wheels. Pattullo and Scott Edidin, senior account manager at Wheels, presented How to Develop and Manage Your Fleet Budget, which highlightedWheels' new technology tools: Expense Variance and Cost Projection.

Jim Frank, Wheels president and CEO, spoke on the economy and provided attendees with advice on actions they can apply to their fleet programs. "The role of the fleet manager has become increasingly important in contributing to creating a successful policy program that is socially and economically responsible. Despite the changing times, we have an opportunity to develop some creative and thoughtful solutions to address some very difficult issues," said Frank.

The summit agenda also included Tom Webb, who brings more than 30 years of automotive experience to his role as chief economist for Manheim Consulting. Webb discussed his perspective on key economic trends and how they relate to fleet. Topics covered included credit market turmoil, rising energy prices, and the weakening labor market.

"The non-functioning of the overall financial market has uniquely and overwhelmingly contributed to our current economic recession — and changes in the auto retail lending landscape go a long way in explaining the weakness in wholesale used vehicle pricing, the narrowing of dealer gross margins, and the softness in both new and used vehicle sales," explained Webb.

In addition, the summit included a panel discussion covering topics such as how to manage environmental fleet goals, how the rising cost of fuel has impacted budgets, and whether new vehicle trends are coming into play. Panelists included: Julie Frey, supervisor of Fleet and Safety for De La Rue Cash System, Inc.; Jim McCarthy, director of vehicle management services, Siemens Medical Systems; Randy Read, vice president, U.S. Sales, Telargo; and Stratford Dick, senior director of marketing at Wheels.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet