Benoit Laflamme has set up shop in France to gain deeper insight into the European market, which will serve as a springboard to Element’s global ambitions.
For someone who was recently head of Customer Relations, handling a few major accounts, the promotion to Vice-President of Global Business Development is a once-in-alifetime opportunity.
“I always dreamed of working at an international level, and next thing I know the stars are aligning to make my dream reality,” says Laflamme. His spouse (who took a year-long sabbatical) and his children are accompanying him for this adventure.
From finance to fleet
When you factor in the time he spent in the heavy-duty trucking industry, Laflamme has always gravitated toward the auto industry. The finance major completed his internship at GE Capital, where he was offered a position before completing his studies. Diploma in hand, he spent his first four years working there. Then, he moved on to Volvo Finance, before returning to GE Capital in 2012, right before the Element changeover.
Having explored the world of finance, he considers fleet management a more holistic environment. “On the vehicle side of the business, we accompany customers at multiple levels,” he explains. “The long-term associations allow us to generate savings in various sectors of their operations.”
In this new role, the young executive reports directly to Jim Halliday, President & CEO of Element Fleet Management International. Back in 2014, Element acquired the GE Capital fleet activities along with its European partner, Arval, which acquired PHH Arval in 2013, thus leading to its current participation in the strategic Element-Arval Global Alliance.
The Element-Arval Global Alliance Paris headquarters will serve as Laflamme’s introduction to European management practices. On the flipside, an Arval official is in the U.S. for a year to experience the North American Element environment.
“We are sending a clear message to customers to the effect that we are more dedicated than ever in the deployment of our global strategy,” Laflamme said. “Not only will this experience allow us to coordinate our efforts from sea to sea, but we are also reaching across all continents.
“Our objectives include the strengthening of relationships with global customers. Oftentimes, we are dealing with regional representatives, but now we have the opportunity to network directly with European stakeholders and decision-makers.”
He points out the fact that although certain customers have business activities spanning several countries, they aren’t necessarily coordinated ventures. According to his estimates, Element can provide the support required to generate savings of five to six percent.
“I sincerely hope to be able to contribute to obtaining tangible results,” he added. “Although a year can seem to be a long time, it really isn’t when you’re trying to get huge players, with hundreds, if not thousands of employees and vehicles, to embrace change.”
The newly appointed VP attended the Global Fleet Conference in Brussels last June, as a means of familiarizing himself with global fleet management. He is convinced that his sales background will be a definite asset in achieving his objectives.
Element has already demonstrated its organizational acumen from the realworld experience that it gained through its numerous acquisitions these last few years. Without a doubt, the invaluable experience and insight gained from Laflamme’s overseas experience will definitely benefit the North American fleet industry as a whole.