Wheels Donlen CEO Shlomo Crandus: "Our new platform is right on track"
Since the merger announcement of US-based vehicle leasing and management companies Wheels Inc. and Donlen in 4Q21, the new group has been making extensive progress with their integration plan.
To find out more about it, Global Fleet received some key information from CEO Shlomo Crandus last week regarding their strategic transition. According to Mr. Crandus, Wheels Donlen is right on schedule and the significant milestone he wanted to tell me about was the announcement of their new integrated platform.
Considering that each company already had their own platform, how did you decide on your integrated platform strategy?
S. Crandus: As with each step in our integration process, arriving at a platform strategy was part of a carefully thought-out progression.
First, we took the time to understand each organization’s way of working, each existing platform’s features and capabilities and how we could best position our technology offerings for the future. We were very open to wherever the process would lead us with the objective being to deliver the best possible client experience.
With a group of cross-functional leaders, the intensive process included gathering feedback from more than 1,000 clients of many sizes and across several vehicle applications.
We found it invaluable to speak with clients and employees who spend every working day in our client- and driver-facing technologies as well as others who use the systems a couple of times a week. We also gained insights from speaking with users who have experience in both systems as we completed side-by-side comparisons of the platforms.
As we evaluated all possibilities, we also reviewed procedures that both companies use, which was the most exciting part of the work. This provided us the opportunity to view different approaches to solving complex client problems. After this exhaustive process was complete, we decided that our platform strategy will be to begin with the existing Wheels platform as our base and add high value Donlen platform features to it, thus allowing us to quickly and effectively deliver what our clients want and expect now and for the future.
What are some of the key features and products you offer under the new platform?
S. Crandus: We are continually looking at development of new products and services. Because we serve so many clients from local service providers to Global Fortune 500 clients, our intent is to be at the forefront of fleet offerings and technology.
Starting with the Wheels architecture, we will build in the more unique and high value features from Donlen’s system, with an eye to the future.
Some of the products that were unique to each organization will be brought into the new platform such as Reimbursement, Garage Management, and Pool Management. Additionally, different approaches to reporting will be built in.
We will always be able to address client needs and adapt to client requests. As we continue through this migration, we will continue to support the needs of existing clients on our legacy platforms.
Considering the alliance between Wheels and ALD Automotive, does the new platform affect your relationship with ALD?
S. Crandus: We have a very strong partnership with ALD, and we know that our enhanced capabilities, including those created as a result of our platform strategy, will only strengthen that partnership and allow us to better serve our clients.
Our partnership with ALD allows us to serve clients in 59 countries across the globe. Because of the existing relationship between ALD and legacy Wheels, the decision to leverage the Wheels architecture as the basis for our platform strategy will also allow us to more seamlessly move forward in our partnership.
Considering the fleet and mobility needs of companies in today’s ever-changing world, how does the platform recognize and satisfy these needs?
S. Crandus: The Wheels Donlen transition process is going to be an amazing journey to the future and the platform decision is a key component of that journey.
We consider this to be an opportunity to reinvent and reinvigorate fleet management and the new platform will be built precisely to address our clients’ fleet mobility needs for now, with the flexibility to allow for customization to fit their future needs.
The commercial mobility industry is in a period of rapid change as we see new OEMs and acquisition methods, growing interest in electrification, the use of connectivity to improve efficiency and safety, and longer term moves to autonomous vehicles. Our Wheels Donlen platform will be designed to adapt to many paths we see towards the future.
And looking forward, could you tell me about your short and long-term priorities for Wheels Donlen?
S. Crandus: Most important is to keep our clients front and center as we think about the future…we exist to bring value to help our clients run their businesses. For both the short and long term, we will be certain that the merged organization leverages our collective strengths to serve our clients.
For the short term, this translates to a seamless transition across all operational areas and continued support to our clients in reaching their goals. As I’ve said many times, we start from a position of strength with two such customer-centric organizations.
For the long term, we expect that the scale and funding of the new organization combined with a renewed focus on experimentation and invention will provide opportunities for expanded technology, new product offerings and leadership in the now ignited world of electrification.
Put plainly, our long-term goal is to become the fleet management organization that is leading our clients through the mobility revolution.
Key members of the Wheels Donlen leadership team, left to right: Shlomo Crandus (CEO); Tom Callahan (President & Board Member); and Eric Hiller (CFO). See full team here.
For those of you who are looking to get a comprehensive view of the Vehicle Leasing Ecosystem around the globe (including the ALD-Wheels Global Alliance), download the latest Global Fleet E-Book on the matter.