November 2011

Editor’s Notebook

Turkey Time

by Rick Nicoletti, Napleton Fleet Group

Rick Nicoletti

We're a couple of days from Thanksgiving and my thoughts are about the family members who will join us this Thursday. This will be the 28th consecutive year that we will host Thanksgiving for both sides of our family. It usually ends up at around 30 people every year. This year will be no different: 25 adults, 5 children and 2 babies. I look forward to Thanksgiving. It's a fun and slightly chaotic day in our house but it’s always memorable.

We included a a little Thanksgiving in this month’s issue of Spec Sheet. Take special note of McCarthy’s Liner Notes. I half-kiddingly suggested to Jim that he give us 10 or so songs about “food” to keep Liner Notes in the Thanksgiving mood. Within 15 minutes he sent me a list of 30 songs from his iPod that related to food. We trimmed it to 15 songs for your digestive pleasure. The man and his iPod are simply amazing.

You also find a couple of interesting stories about one former and one current member of AFLA – Steve Ferdinando’s life-changing course and Mary Sticha’s work with the Greyhound Rescue Foundation. Both are fascinating articles.

Enjoy this month’s issue of Spec Sheet. From all of us on the Communications Committe and the Spec Sheet staff, we wish you and your family a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

Message from the President

by Theresa Belding, Forest Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Theresa Belding

AFLA held a strategic planning meeting November 3-4 at Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in St. Louis, MO.   Lori Rasmussen, Tom Callahan and I, from the Executive Committee, were joined by Terry Langness and Ross Friedman from the Education and Membership Committees.  David Ewald and Paul Hanscom of Ewald consulting were on hand to moderate the session.

One of the key functions of the Strategic Planning meeting is to develop the goals for the coming year.  In 2012, AFLA plans to focus on identifying and recruiting new members.  Enhance the conference quality and experience remains a high priority for AFLA.  Equally as important is building our year round education and member value.  In an effort to reach these goals, it is evident that the continued participation from our sponsors is critical.  In 2012, we will continue to explore ways to enhance the value for our sponsors.

Another critical component to AFLA’s success is volunteerism.  We are thankful to all who have served AFLA in leadership roles, as committee members and countless other ways.   We are always looking for new volunteers on our various committees.  If you would like to share your time and expertise on any of our committees, please contact Paul Hanscom at Ewald or me.  Please visit the AFLA website for a list of all of the available committees.  Some specifically in need of members are: Membership, Education and the Corporate Fleet Sounding Board.  We are also looking for one or two members to head up the AFLA Golf Tournament in 2012 in San Antonio. 

I am looking forward to a great year.

In Memoriam

Mike Bridges

Mike Bridges: 1950-2011

CRYSTAL LAKE, IL – Michael Bridges, former fleet manager for Liberty AutoCity, a Buick and Jeep franchise, in Libertyville, Ill., died in his sleep of natural causes on Oct. 16, 2011, at his home in Crystal Lake. He was 60.

Bridges was born Nov. 25, 1950, in Evanston, Ill. He was a graduate of Loyola University. He started his automotive career with American Motors Corp. (AMC), working in various positions, notably as the zone fleet manager for Detroit and Chicago and distribution manager.

“During his tenure in Detroit, he was instrumental in helping me win a monumental State of Michigan bid. Subsequently, we worked successfully together, securing other ‘conquest’ accounts. I think he chose to return to Chicago shortly after Chrysler bought AMC,” said Chuck Scharmen, director, Fleet and Commercial Operations for Southfield Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep and Telegraph Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep, and who also worked for AMC prior to its purchase by Chrysler.

The last position held by Bridges with AMC was as distribution manager. He left AMC after Chrysler purchased the company in March 1987.

In September 1996, Bridges joined Liberty AutoCity, part of the Chicagoland Dealers Group. Bridges worked at Liberty AutoCity until 2001, when he left the automotive business to move to Ft. Myers, Fla. Several years later, Bridges returned to Illinois following the birth of his grandchildren.

Helen Smorgan

Helen Smorgan: 1922 - 2011

INDIAN LAKE, NY – Former fleet manager for Johnson & Johnson Helen M. Smorgans passed away on Oct. 24. She was 89.

Smorgans began her career in fleet in 1964. She managed fleets for Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Corporate and 10 other J&J companies, which involved managing approximately 1,500 vehicles throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. She was the co-founder of the NAFA New Jersey Chapter, acted as its chairperson, and served on the National Board of Governors for NAFA. She was inducted into Automotive Fleet magazine’s Fleet Hall of Fame in 2009.

She is survived by her husband of 64 years, Walter Smorgans; one daughter, Barbara Smorgans Marshall and one son, Walter M. Smorgans.

Life After Fleet:
Steve Ferdinando Sets Sail on Rewarding Projects

by Shelley Mika

Steve Ferdinando

In 2008, after 17 years of owning and operating Western Fleet Resources/Driven Fleet Remarketing, Steve Ferdinando, President/Owner of Your True North LLC, stepped away from the fleet industry. It was an exercise with his friend and mentor, Kevin McGrath, that made him realize a change was in order.

 “Once I started aligning my values and goals, I realized quickly that I had a completely different path to blaze than the one I was on with my existing business,” he said. “This wasn't easy, and was actually quite scary; sometimes we can let what we do define who we are, and how much we earn be the measure of our worth, but once I started making the change, some magical things started to happen.”

An Eternal Entrepreneurial Spirit
Since that day, a lot has happened, indeed. Ferdinando has never forgotten that fated exercise with his mentor. In fact, he is now President and Owner of Your True North, LLC. “As soon as I did that exercise of aligning my values, goals, and the direction I wanted to take my life, opportunities started to and keep showing up that support that decision and direction. Now I’ve developed a coaching concept to find ‘Your True North.’”

Ferdinando is also currently involved in two other projects, both of which spark his passion and enthusiasm for entrepreneurial ventures.

Changing the Course of Young People’s Lives
The first is serving on the Advisory Board of The Institute of Child Development (ICD) at Texas Christian University (, a non-profit located in Fort Worth, Texas. The ICD is dedicated to training, educating, and performing research to help children suffering from trauma-based disturbances.

“These conditions affect all children, but are extreme with fostered and adopted kids from hard places,” Ferdinando said. “These children are usually misdiagnosed and face a life of harmful medications and disconnection — but the ICD has an innovative model for intervention that can bring these children back”

After meeting the ICD’s co-founder, Dr. Karyn Purvis (aka "The Child Whisperer") in 2007, Ferdinando offered to volunteer in any way he could. So in 2008 he left California and headed to Texas for six months to be the Assistant Director, leaving his home and his love for the nearby ocean. “All that know me and what a ‘water guy’ I am know this has been a project of love for me, because I couldn't have been more of a fish out of water (literally!),” he said. “I know this work may seem odd from a single guy with no kids and no child psychology background (other than dealing with some fleet managers!), but if you see what they do, you'll understand.”

During his tenure at the ICD, Ferdinando returned home on weekends to get his ocean fix, all the while growing the Institute and hiring new staff. “After a year I had hired the last position…mine,” he said. “It was hard to leave the incredible team we built and see the work on a day-to-day basis, but luckily, they let me consult and fundraise from home here in Channel Islands Harbor on California's Gold Coast. It's something that I will be a part of for the rest of my life.”

Passing the Entrepreneurial Torch
Now, Ferdinando spends much of his time fostering a new project: This relatively new company is a platform for online market research and surveys via webcam. “The acting COO has asked me to help with strategic planning and sales for a product/service that is really quite incredible,” Ferdinando said. “Right now we are focused on the existing market niche, but I see a myriad of uses for this technology in the future as we grow. Mindswarms has worked with top automobile manufacturers and it already has functionality to be a great tool for fleet managers/service providers to gauge products and services with drivers and customers. This has been and will be an incredible learning experience, and great fun to mentor and work with such talented young enthusiastic professionals in a whole new industry!” 

It’s been three years since he’s left the fleet business, but Ferdinando will always remember lessons he learned early on. “When my father, Paul, passed away I was 26 years old and I had no idea what to do to be a good remarketer (I think we were just called Used Car Wholesalers back then!),” he said. “I hadn't grown up wanting to be a used car dealer, but I had always been entrepreneurial, so I just started calling the existing clients and asking them authentically ‘what do you want me to do for you to be good at what I do?’ I was amazed and will forever be grateful for the capacity of those first several clients to take me under their wing, believe in me when I did not, and help me to be good at what I did. That lesson and question will always help me to be of service both personally and professionally.”

Time for Personal Adventure, Too
While hard work and the entrepreneurial spirit are strong in Ferdinando, he still finds time to relax, too. Now back at his home in Channel Islands Harbor, he can see his sailboat, “Hakuna Matata,” from his home, waiting for yet another sail. “My girlfriend Maria and I have had an incredible year of sailing adventures and travel. I am gearing up now for a 3 week trip to explore and sail the east coast of Panama next month,” he said. “I really find travel is a mandatory stimulus for me. I always feel fresh, rejuvenated, and more creative while learning about other places and cultures.” 

AFLA Member Mary Sticha Helps Greyhounds Survive

by Cheryl Knight

Mary Sticha

Greyhound Fun Facts

  • Greyhound owners have included George Washington, Rutherford B. Hayes, General George Custer, Alexander the Great, Queen Victoria, Cleopatra, Frank Sinatra, Bo Derek, Babe Ruth, Betty White, and Ed Sullivan.
  • Because of their lean, muscular body mass, Greyhounds must be indoor pets only. They cannot tolerate extreme weather conditions.
  • Greyhounds are one of the fastest-accelerating animals on earth, second only to the Cheetah.
  • Greyhounds are known as universal blood donors, helping save lives of thousands of pets annually.
  • Greyhounds have “webbed” feet. This is thought to be a part of their natural aerodynamic body structure and assists in holding their traction while running on a sandy terrain.


As the general manager of Commercial Programs for GE Capital Fleet Services in Eden Prairie, MN, Mary Sticha works with the sales team for the company’s small fleet and rental markets. Previously, she worked as the site leader for Operations, leading the Fleet Management Solutions, Customer Service, Digital Fleet Management, Telematics Ops, and Customer Implementation teams. In total, Mary has more than 25 years of industry experience.

A member of AFLA’s Membership Committee since 2008 and the director of Fleet Management Companies from 2008 to 2010, Mary values the external network and focus on industry development that the association offers.

“AFLA is small, but attracts those in the industry who most closely align with our business,” she said. “I appreciate the ability to meet and interact with peers, suppliers, and corporate customers. I also get a lot of value out of the communications, education forums, and the annual conference.”

The ‘AFLA difference,’ according to Mary, is the current and relevant content through the association’s publications, Webinars, and annual conference.

Working With a Greyhound Rescue Foundation
In addition to her work at GE Capital Fleet Services, Mary dedicates her time to the Greyhound Pets of America Minnesota (GPA MN). She originally was introduced to greyhounds by her father. Wanting to learn more about this majestic breed, Mary began reading books about Greyhounds and researching them on the Internet.

“I went to a local meet and greet where I could interact with greyhounds and their owners directly,” she said. “I fell in love with how regal and gentle they were. So I adopted Kristin Marie (her racing name) in June 2009.”

According to Mary, GPA MN works diligently at increasing awareness of greyhound adoption. Volunteers search for events where they can show off the greyhounds and talk about the breed.

“Prior to greyhound rescue organizations being formed, many greyhounds were put down when their racing careers were over,” Mary explained. “Now, through adoption agencies like GPA MN, nearly 90% of retired racing greyhounds are placed. I like that I am helping greyhounds find homes to enjoy their retirement.”

Many greyhound owners meet weekly for a walk around the area’s local lake. And GPA MN recently showcased the hounds at the MN State Fair; Renaissance Festival; and WoofStock. The organization also visits the local PetCo (a GPA MN sponsor) to interact with the patrons.

“We have marched in Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day parades; walked around the plaza at Twin’s games; and staffed a booth at the Minneapolis Kennel Club,” Mary added. “We grab any chance we can get to interact with the public.”

Kristin Marie is Mary’s eighth dog across five breeds. She has found that owning a greyhound has been the easiest and most satisfying.

“Greyhounds sleep 16–18 hours a day; keep themselves clean; arrive mostly house broken; and rarely bark,” Mary pointed out. “They are gentle, loving, and grateful for the smallest of kindness. They do love to run (as fast at 45 mph!), but they are not at all hyper.”

Mary recommends that everyone meet a greyhound, and she warns … “Be ready to be charmed when you do!”

To donate to the GPA MN, visit The organization uses the funds to perform initial veterinary services for hounds they look to place. 

Industry Update From Mary Sticha

Q: What is your current outlook on the fleet and leasing industry?

Mary: The industry continues to evolve. Because vehicles are essential for companies to sell, service, or deliver to their customers, I would expect fleet to remain strong for the foreseeable future.

Q: What do you see coming in the future?

Mary: The technology being introduced on new vehicles is astounding. This “connected” world we live in demands it. With all this convenience, though, comes distraction. I would expect this to be a focus area by companies and safety professionals.

Q: What technology stands out?

Mary: I see companies taking telematics-type services to the next level. Instead of just route planning, idling, and speeding as focus areas, companies are going to measure driver productivity and adherence to service-level commitments with their clients. There will also be more integration with other technologies.

History with a Mystery: The Chevrolet Bowtie

from GM Media

A 1916 rendition of the original Chevrolet bowtie badge, which was introduced in late 1913 by William C. Durant on a trio of new-for-1914 Chevrolet models.

Globally recognized today, the Chevrolet bowtie logo was introduced by company co-founder William C. Durant in late 1913. But how it came to be synonymous with the brand is open to wide interpretation.

Durant’s version of how the logo came into existence is well known. The long-accepted story, confirmed by Durant himself, was that it was inspired by the wallpaper design in a Parisian hotel.

According to The Chevrolet Story of 1961, an official company publication issued in celebration of Chevrolet's 50th anniversary:

“It originated in Durant's imagination when, as a world traveler in 1908, he saw the pattern marching off into infinity as a design on wallpaper in a French hotel. He tore off a piece of the wallpaper and kept it to show friends, with the thought that it would make a good nameplate for a car.”

However, conflicting accounts have emerged, each of which is plausible enough to deepen the mystery and suggest it may never be solved. Two of the alternate origins come from within the Durant family itself.

In 1929, Durant's daughter, Margery, published a book entitled, My Father. In it, she told how Durant sometimes doodled nameplate designs on pieces of paper at the dinner table. “I think it was between the soup and the fried chicken one night that he sketched out the design that is used on the Chevrolet car to this day,” she wrote.

More than half a century later, another Bowtie origin was recounted in a 1986 issue of Chevrolet Pro Management Magazine based on a 13-year-old interview with Durant's widow, Catherine. She recalled how she and her husband were on holiday in Hot Springs, Va., in 1912. While reading a newspaper in their hotel room, Durant spotted a design and exclaimed, “I think this would be a very good emblem for the Chevrolet.” Unfortunately, at the time, Mrs. Durant didn't clarify what the motif was or how it was used.

That nugget of information inspired Ken Kaufmann, historian and editor of The Chevrolet Review, to search out its validity. In a Nov. 12, 1911 edition of The Constitution newspaper, published in Atlanta, an advertisement appeared from by the Southern Compressed Coal Company for “Coalettes,” a refined fuel product for fires. The Coalettes logo, as published in the ad, had a slanted bowtie form, very similar to the shape that would soon become the Chevrolet icon. Did Durant and his wife see the same ad – or one similar – the following year a few states to the north? The date of the paper was just nine days after the incorporation of the Chevrolet Motor Co.

One other explanation attributes the design to a stylized version of the cross of the Swiss flag. Louis Chevrolet was born in Switzerland at La Chaux-de-Fonds, Canton of Neuchâtel, to French parents, on Christmas Day 1878.

Whichever origin is true, within a few years, the bowtie would emerge as the definitive Chevrolet logo. An October 2, 1913 edition of The Washington Post seems, so far, to be the earliest known example of the symbol being used to advertise the brand. “Look for this nameplate” the ad proclaims above the emblem. Customers the world over have been doing so ever since.

Many variations in coloring and detail of the Chevrolet bowtie have come and gone over the decades since its introduction in late 1913, but the essential shape has never changed. In 2004, Chevrolet began to phase in the gold bowtie that today serves as the brand identity for all of its cars and trucks marketed globally. The move reinforced the strength of what was already one of the most-recognized automotive emblems in the world. More than 4.25 million Chevrolets were sold in more than 120 countries and regions during 2010.

Don't Forget to Sign up for the the Series Finale Webinar with Richard Alaniz

Richard Alaniz

Richard D. Alaniz is senior partner at Alaniz and Schraeder, a national labor and employment law firm based in Houston, TX. He has been at the forefront of labor and employment law for more than 30 years. He was a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Labor and served on the President’s Cost of Living Council during the Nixon Administration.

Join him for the final webinar of this series:

December 7: Equal employment opportunity commission (EEOC): Practical tips for improving your response to harassment in the workplace.

Remarketing Update: What Segment Had Most Significant
Change Week Over Week?

by Ricky Beggs, Black Book

Listen to Ricky Beggs discuss this week’s topic by clicking on the video frame below or clicking on this link:

McCarthy’s Liner Notes: Top 15 Food Songs

by Jim McCarthy, Siemens Shared Services LLC

Jim McCarthy

Well, it's that time of the year again – Thanksgiving – an opportunity to spend time with family and friends, while enjoying some special, down home cooking. In honor of this year's feast, we have decided to incorporate some of my iPod "food" songs into this month's Liner Notes. We've included some main courses, side dishes, vegetables, deserts and even a few drinks to wash it all down. And as an added treat, a little something extra to make you feel better the next morning! So sit back, relax, loosen you belt a notch or two and enjoy our tribute to Thanksgiving dinner. Have a great Holiday!

Top 15 Food Songs

  1. Rock Lobster - B-52's
  2. Memphis Soul Stew - King Curtis
  3. Chicken Fried - Zac Brown Band
  4. Jambalaya - Fats Domino
  5. Bar-B-Que - ZZ Top
  6. Hot Pastrami with Mashed Potatoes - Joey Dee & the Starliters
  7. Gravy (for my Mashed Potatoes) - Dee Dee Sharp
  8. Cold Budweiser & Sweet Tater - Joe Diffie
  9. Bread & Butter - Newbeats
  10. Vegetables - Beach Boys
  11. Green Onions - Booker T & the MG's
  12. Jolly Green Giant - The Kingsmen
  13. Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie - Jay & The Techniques
  14. Sweet Potato Pie - James Taylor
  15. Bottle of Wine - Jimmie Gilmer & The Fireballs

    ...and for the morning after:   

Nicoletti’s Addendum to McCarthy’s Liner Notes – 10 for Chevrolet

by Rick Nicoletti, Napleton Fleet Group

November 3rd marked the 100th anniversary of Chevrolet. I recently read an article that stated that there are close to 700 songs that mention Chevrolet or one of the Chevrolet models. With that in mind, here are 10 favorites to start you thinking about 100 years of the “bowtie.”

  1. Chevrolet - ZZ Top
  2. Go Lil' Camaro Go - The Ramones
  3. 409 - The Beach Boys
  4. One Bud Wiser - Gretchen Wilson
  5. Night Moves - Bob Seger
  6. Crocodile Rock - Elton John
  7. Chevy Van - Sammy Johns
  8. Mud on the Tires - Brad Paisley
  9. When You Close Your Eyes - Night Ranger
  10. Drive South - John Hiatt (I'll always sneak a Hiatt song in if I can - I'm a big fan)

    And my 11th pick...
  11. See the USA in Your Chevrolet - Dinah Shore

Auto Recall:
What Was Your First Car?

by Jeff Haag, General Motors Fleet & Commercial, Director of National Accounts

My first car was a plum purple with black interior 1967 Chevelle SS 396 4 speed.  In its day the car was legendary for its performance. I bought it at age 15 from a buddy’s older brother for $50.  I actually learned to drive on this car!

The car had no engine, transmission or front end.  I picked up the parts from various locations. I found a junk yard 396 Chevy engine. Rebuilt the engine myself – it was very fast and very loud. I never had the car repainted – I spent all my money on speed components.  I was more interested in going fast than how the car looked.

I have many fond memories of this car. This was the first of many cool cars I rebuilt or restored over the years.

Now it’s your turn. Send us your story. If you have a photo of you and your first car, all the better. Send your story to

In Memoriam: Scott Okun (1959-2011)
Founding Spec Sheet Staff Member

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