Holman Fleet Forum: Info, Insights & Inspiration

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Emily Graham, Director of Sustainability at Holman spoke about electrification at the 2022 Holman Fleet Forum. Photo Jack Kazmierski

Holman tackles some of the biggest issues and challenges facing our industry in 2022.

Fleet professionals, OEM representatives and the media were invited to the 2022 Holman Fleet Forum (formerly known as the ARI Fleet Forum), which took place on Sept. 8 at the Angus Glen Golf Club in Markham, Ont.

This was the first time the Fleet Forum was hosted by the newly-rebranded Holman organization, and the first time the in-person event took place since prior to the pandemic.

The morning session began with a presentation by Bob White, President of Holman Fleet and Mobility. White acknowledged the fact that much has changed over the course of the pandemic, including the rebranding of ARI as Holman.

“Coming together under one brand, under one banner, allows us the opportunity to communicate about all the competencies and capabilities we possess in all of our businesses,” White explained.

Holman is a brand that includes a family of businesses within the automotive industry. “We are an automotive retailer, we have a number of new car dealerships in the U.S., we’re an insurance business, we have a venture capital investment organization, we’re into manufacturing and upfitting, and we have a fleet management organization,” White explained.

The goal, White said, is to leverage all the capabilities of all the businesses in the Holman family in order to add value to the fleet customer. “I know the Holman name is new to the Canadian marketplace,” he admitted, “but we’re building off a nearly 100-year legacy as the Holman brand. In fact, we’ll be celebrating our 100th anniversary in 2024.”

EV revolution

Emily Graham, Director of Sustainability at Holman spoke about electrification and how it is impacting the fleet industry. She explained that electric vehicles will reshape the industry, and that this change is already happening, and happening faster than anyone expected.

But making the switch to EVs is not as easy as we might like it to be. “In addition to thinking about the types of vehicles, and the technology, and the charging gear, you have to think about what’s right for your fleet,” she added.

Graham explained that the transition to electric vehicles is not a challenge fleets have to face on their own. Holman, she added, has the expertise and experience to help fleets make the transition.

Electrifying a fleet is a complex and involved process, she explained. Even finding the right vehicle for the job can be a challenge. “This is becoming a more complicated conversation than ever before,” Graham added. “How do you ensure that you’re picking the right vehicle and that it’s operationally reliable?”

Holman’s team, she said, has the business intelligence and analytics to help fleets answer these questions. “In phase one we’ll take into account best driver fit, charging fit, and vehicle fit,” she explained. “These are not pilot projects. You should introduce electric vehicles into your fleet in phases so that you can learn, adjust and expand as needed.”

She stressed that transitioning to electric vehicles is not a cookie-cutter approach. “One fleet’s plan is not the same as the next,” she added.

Supply chain & vehicle prices

Craig Pope, Manager of Client Relation at Holman spoke about the supply and demand imbalance we see today, and offered a bit of hope. “There’s a positive upward momentum in terms of fleet allocation that’s expected in 2023,” he explained, “although it’s still short of pre-pandemic levels.”

Pope discussed lead times, which are a huge challenge for today’s fleet managers. “We don’t feel as though that is going to come back in 2023,” he said. “Labour and chip shortages are a big factor, and most experts are saying that the chip shortage will likely be corrected by the end of 2024. So when that happens, we think the lead times will adjust accordingly.”

He then offered insight into the cost of new vehicles, and what we might see in the near future. “The average cap cost, because we’re in a low supply/high demand situation has gone up,” Pope explained. “In 2021 vehicle cap costs rose by 8%, in 2022 they rose by another 9% on top of that 8%, and we anticipate vehicle cap costs rising in 2023, although not to at the same levels as we saw in 2021 and 2022, but still definitely an increase.”

Upfitting is another challenge fleets have to deal with, and one that doesn’t look like it will be solved anytime soon. “The upfitting outlook remains challenging as we face longer component lead times, along with a shortage of labour availability in manufacturing, and a backlog in upfitting that we haven’t seen before,” he explained.

Apps & Insights

Michael Stallone, VP of Application Development at Holman explained how Holman has invested in technology in order to improve the customer experience and make technology as easy to use, and as intuitive as possible.

Phase one in this ambitious technology project is to make it easy for drivers to use Holman’s mobile app (Driver Insights). Phase two is all about the fleet manager, and phase three focuses on field managers.

Fleet mangers who are familiar with Insights will see a new revamped dashboard, and Stallone announced that he and his team will soon be launching an app specifically developed for fleet managers.

“We’re just starting development of the fleet manager mobile app right now,” he explained. “We wanted to do something unique, so we started building what we’re going to liken to Facebook.” This Facebook-like feed monitors each individual’s usage behaviour, and brings to the surface the analytics that are relevant to that person as well as to their fleet.

Lessons from a Dragon

The morning concluded with a keynote presentation by one of the stars of the popular Dragon’s Den TV program, Arlene Dickinson. She spoke about how poverty shaped her personality and gave her the drive she needed to succeed later in life.

She explained how she, her parents, and her two siblings immigrated from South Africa with only $50 dollars to their name, back when she was just a little girl. She admitted that her family was “dysfunctional” and that she remembers “constant fighting and constant anger.”

Yet the stressful conditions she lived through taught her valuable lessons that she later applied in business. “I learned listening skills,” she said. “I learned to tell the difference between the words that come out of a person’s mouth when they’re upset, or angry, or hurt, or afraid versus what they are really trying to say. And this ability to actually hear what people are attempting to say versus the words that are coming out of their mouths, I think is one of the most valuable lessons I learned coming from dysfunction.”

Following a morning of instruction and industry insight, many guests enjoyed lunch and a round of golf.


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