A weakening economy has been known to spell disaster to service businesses, as customers tighten their belts and do the work themselves. But William F. Adler sees an opportunity instead.
Corporations streamlining to cut overhead can turn to PHH to handle peripheral tasks, said Mr. Adler, recently named president of PHH FleetAmerica. "We can provide them with quality service in a cost-effective manner," he added.
PHH FleetAmerica, which provides a range of services "from determining the type of vehicle a company needs, to purchasing it, maintaining it and selling it," handles almost 400,000 cars leased by more than 800 corporate clients nationwide. It is a major subsidiary of PHH Corp., the company based in Hunt Valley that specializes in vehicle and real estate management services.
As president of the subsidiary, Mr. Adler also will be responsible for the operations of Avis Leasing, which manages fleets of 200 cars or fewer, and Texas-based NTS, which manages fuel purchases for more than 7,400 trucking companies in the United States and Canada.
The job is not only significant -- Robert D. Kunisch, PHH chairman and chief executive officer, once headed FleetAmerica -- but also demanding. Altogether Mr. Adler will oversee 1,500 employees and offices in 20 locations from Boston to Los Angeles.
He comes well-prepared, however.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Adler graduated from the University of Buffalo in 1965 with a degree in psychology and attended the MBA program of Baruch College, a division of the City University of New York, completing work there in 1968.
From 1968 to 1977, Mr. Adler was vice president and director of compensation and benefits for Merrill Lynch.
In 1977, he became executive vice president for human resources at Shearson Brothers, where he helped integrate and manage employees the investment firm acquired through mergers with such firms as Lehman Brothers. The firm, which was acquired by American Express, is now called Shearson Lehman Brothers.
In 1985 Mr. Adler joined PHH as vice president of human resources, overseeing employment, training, compensation and executive succession matters.
His responsibilities expanded steadily, and by last year he was managing all of PHH's computer operations, the corporate legal department and the facilities management business segment.
This year the facilities management segment is being sold off.
"After several years of reviewing our business capabilities, we felt it would take a little longer to achieve the kinds of results we wanted there. We felt investments in other areas would be more appropriate," Mr. Adler said.
Mr. Adler is a director of several community organizations that provide service to families and students, including Family and Children's Service of Central Maryland and Inroads Inc./Baltimore, which recruits minority college students to work with corporations.
Mr. Adler says his main goal as president of PHH FleetAmerica is to help the corporation maintain the position of industry leadership that it has held since its founding in Baltimore in 1946.
"We need to make sure we are constantly servicing our clients in a high-quality and cost-effective manner," he said.