Tribute to Don Rappeport; Best-in-Class Vehicle Auctions; NAFA

Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike.
– Theodore Roosevelt

With deep sadness, we announced the passing of our founder Don Rappeport on Friday, April 6. Although he retired as CEO in 2001, he remained a familiar figure at Donlen…often visiting, always smiling. He was a respected businessman, loving family man, and he will be missed.

Don was an industry pioneer, founding Donlen in 1965 with his partner Len Vine – the “Don” and “Len” in our company name. Even as Donlen grew and achieved success over the years, it always retained the philosophies of a family business. Don had a way of making each employee feel they were the most important employee, getting to know them personally.

This has been a week for many long-time employees to reflect on Don both as a leader and a man of great character. We wanted to share some of their thoughts.

“I’ve been with Donlen for almost 31 years. My first interview was with Paul Hilder (since retired from Donlen) and my second was with Don Rappeport. I had never worked in an office environment before and frankly, was a bit nervous. Paul was great in explaining the job responsibilities and shared that I had to meet with the company chairman as he had the final approval. Needless to say my anxiety level jumped tremendously. I really wanted the job as I had been married at the time just four years and had two young children, and the family needed me to make a change. How do I look? What do I say? Corporate America, oh boy! From the moment Mr. Rappeport greeted me until we completed our “conversation” almost an hour later, he made me feel at ease, which, as you can imagine, allowed me to speak more comfortably. I said conversation because that’s what it was. Certainly I was interviewing, but Mr. Rappeport was more interested in my family, my sports interests (I mentioned golf…good move), where I spent my younger years (when we both discovered that we came from the Wrigley Field area) and if I were a Cubs or Sox fan (I responded Cubs…another good move). Over the years I had many business and personal conversations with Mr. Rappeport and with each one I knew that he sincerely cared about his employees. I am very fortunate and thankful for having known him.” – Bill Byron, Senior Truck Specialist

“Having been with Donlen since 1986, I had the opportunity to work closely with Don on many initiatives. He had a passion for work that I had never seen. He pushed us all to become better employees and in turn to make the company better. But Don also had a compassionate side. A few months after I started with Donlen, my brother passed away and Don took the time to call me at home to see if there was anything I needed. A self-made man, Don was from the generation where a handshake was as good as any contract. He was a man of his word and expected the same from others. If you ever wanted to get a visit from Don, just close your door! He liked to know what was going on within the business and on many occasions would walk into a meeting or presentation just to see what was going on, and of course, to offer his suggestions. His legacy will live on at Donlen.” – Dave Lodding, President, Fleet Management Services

“I’ve met very few people as kind and warm as Mr. Rappeport. Although I had been at Donlen for a only a short time while he was still CEO, you could perceive the great professional and great leader that he was. He was always kind and made me feel comfortable even when things weren’t working the way he expected. Actually, I think he has been missed for a long time. We missed him walking around saying “Hi. How are you doing?” He made sure he let you know he still remembered you. Many of us like to recall the days when he was still in the company. I especially enjoy the stories from the people who have been here longer than I have and had the pleasure of working with him longer. Mr. Rappeport’s presence and smile will never be forgotten.” – Alicia Sarabia, Billing Analyst

“Don Rappeport was inspirational on many levels. As Chairman of the Board, he remained actively involved in Donlen long after he had retired from running the company. I was impressed with the insightful issues he would raise before signing corporate resolutions to authorize a new financing or program at Donlen. Sometimes he would stop by my office just to hear generally about deals, and Don would always entertain me with stories of our customers from the early days. He would often describe aspects of a customer’s business model that he believed made that particular company an industry leader. Don helped me to understand that our customers should be viewed more as partners than as simply clients and that we could be an integral part of their success. I was also inspired by Don’s admiration for his son Gary, who succeeded him as CEO of Donlen. Don knew that Gary provided the vision and leadership that enabled Donlen to become the preeminent fleet management company that it is today. Although Don was proud of his own role in founding Donlen, I believe that he was even more proud of how his son had enabled Donlen to transcend Don’s greatest hopes and expectations. Finally, I was very moved by Don’s clear love for his family. Don would sometimes ask me to work with his personal attorney on estate planning issues. His top concern was the well being of his lovely wife, his amazing daughter (the apple of his eye), his brilliant son, and his wonderful grandchildren. A part of Don and the entire Rappeport family is sewn into the fabric of Donlen and will always be part of the special and intangible quality that defines the Donlen difference.” – Carla Garfinkle, General Counsel

“I have many great memories of Don. One in particular sticks out. In July of 1991 I started working in purchasing as an order writer. The next day, Don came by, introduced himself and asked if I needed anything. I recall saying “no thank you” and he proceeded to tell me that if I ever needed anything to just ask. At the time I did not know who he was, and when I found out a few moments later, I was touched that an owner took the time to do that. What’s more unbelievable is that every day after that he came by, said good morning, and asked if everything was okay. This is something that just doesn’t happen much anymore. He toured the building every day. Around holidays, he always made a special effort to come again and wish us happy holidays with our families. He was a tough cookie, but a good one! I’m honored to have worked for him and his family. They are just as kind.” – Carmela Giovinco, Customer Service Account Manager

We will miss Don. Although he is no longer with us, his presence will always be felt and the work that we do honors his legacy.

Best-in-Class Vehicle Auction Winners

Each year, Donlen’s remarketing group presents awards to our auction partners that have achieved the highest levels in their service delivery. We’re proud to award these top performers:

  • Auction of the Year:
    Manheim Southern Cal
  • West Region Winner:
    Adesa Golden Gate
  • Central/Northeast Region Winner:
    Manheim Milwaukee
  • South/Southeast Region Winner:
    Carolina Auto Auction
  • Best Retention Dollars:
    Manheim Southern Cal
  • Best Days to Condition Report:
    Carolina Auto Auction
  • Best Days to Sell:
    Adesa Colorado Springs
  • Best Expense Control:
    Brashers Portland Auto Auction

“One of the things we look for in our auction partners is that they excel in all areas that affect the customer,” said Dan Powers, Donlen’s Director of Vehicle Remarketing. “We not only look at the numbers, but at those who constantly communicate with us, looking for ways to improve service delivery.”

He went on to say, “Our monthly remarketing scorecard is a way for us to ensure our auctions are performing at top level for our customers; the annual awards recognize the hard work the auctions put in all year. We appreciate that, and think it’s important for it to be acknowledged.”

When told of the award, Tommy Rogers, General Manager of Carolina Auto Auction, said, “On behalf of everyone at the Carolina Auto Auction, I want to say thank you to Donlen for the partnership that we have enjoyed for so many years. Being recognized as the ‘Number One Auction in the SE Region’ is an honor, and reflects on the spirit of excellence that is the heart of the culture that Henry and Patty Stanley continue to energize here. From the marketing department and all of our loyal dealers, to the condition report writers, to the mechanics team, to the reconditioning folks – from the entire Carolina Auto Auction team let me again say, thank you for the faith and trust that you have put in the Carolina Auto Auction.”

Congratulations to all the winners! If you would like to speak with Dan about remarketing, he can be reached at 847-412-4996.

Coming to the NAFA Expo? Be sure to visit us at Booth 1433, April 21-24. Fleet experts from Donlen and Hertz will be on hand to discuss how we can help you meet the growing challenges of fleet management head on with industry-leading products and services. The expo floor is sold out, so this promises to be an event you don’t want to miss! Get your FREE PASS (PDF) to the show floor and keynote session. Then come and talk to us about your car, truck, or specialty equipment needs. Just look for the booth with the Tesla Roadster in it!

Driver’s Corner

Did you know there are a few simple things you can do to keep your company vehicle in top condition so that it yields the best return upon reselling? In addition to regular maintenance that should be performed, follow these “rules” from Gus Xamplas, Donlen’s VP of Remarketing:

  • Clean it often, and before any stains have a chance to set.
  • Don’t leave trash in the vehicle. Take it out every day.
  • If you suspect something is not running as it should, remember it’s quicker and cheaper to fix when it’s a small problem; big problems are expensive.
  • Don’t eat in the vehicle.
  • Secure any items that you carry in the car; these can become a projectile just waiting to launch, which can cause both bodily harm and can damage the vehicle.

And Finally…

And finally, paraskevidekatriaphobia is more than just a long, very-hard-to-pronounce word. It’s a real fear of the number 13, and of Friday the 13th in particular. But there is more to be concerned with this weekend than just Friday, as Sunday represents one of the days that increase your odds of getting into a fatal car crash by as much as 6%. Why? It’s April 15 – tax day here in the U.S. – and a day that causes more fear in some than a Hollywood horror movie ever could. The stress of filing taxes on time can lead to distracted driving. And will this year’s filing extension to April 17 help ease the stress? We hope so. In any case, be careful out there!

Have a nice weekend. Safe travels.

Originally appeared in FridayFleet on April 13, 2012

About Donlen
A wholly owned subsidiary of The Hertz Corporation (NYSE:HTZ), Donlen (, with headquarters in Northbrook, IL, is the fleet industry’s most comprehensive and integrated provider of financing and asset management solutions. Since 1965, Donlen has offered its clients highly personalized and responsive customer service, and their workplace excellence has been recognized as one of Crain’s Chicago Business “List of 20 Best Places to Work in Chicago” each year from 2009-2011, a Leader on “The Global Outsourcing 100®” list by the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP) for six of the last seven years, and a National Association for Business Resources “101 Best and Brightest Places to Work For in Chicago” each year from 2007-2012. Donlen’s innovation has been awarded with the Computerworld “2012 Honors Laureate for Economic Opportunity,” named to “2012 InformationWeek 500” for innovative technology; the Stevie® “2012 Gold Award for Business Intelligence Solution,” the Silver Award for “2012 Front Line Customer Service Team of the Year,” and the “2011 Corporate Environmental Responsibility Program of the Year.”