Beatrice Coolican, a past president of the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA), passed away on Dec. 26, 2020, due to complications from COVID-19 in Commerce Township, Mich. She was 74.
Coolican served as AFLA president from 2000-2001 and, up to that point, was only the fourth woman to hold that position. In addition, Coolican was one of the early fleet managers who attained global fleet management responsibilities at a multinational corporation while working at AlliedSignal Corp. In 1995, Coolican was honored as one of the nominees for the Professional Fleet Manager of the Year Award presented by Automotive Fleet magazine.
Coolican was born in Donaueschingen, West Germany on Aug. 8, 1946. While living in Germany, Coolican studied at the Sabel Business School majoring in international business/trade/commerce. She graduated in 1977. She immigrated to the U.S. in 1978 following the epic Blizzard at the Waterkant of 1978, one of the largest ice storms in German history that buried northern Germany in snow, which stranded millions of people in their homes and stopped all rail and road traffic. “Beatrice could not speak a word of English when she arrived in the U.S. She learned English by watching soap operas and taking classes,” said her long-time husband, James Coolican. The two were married in 1985. Coolican’s first job in the U.S was working for an importer of European equestrian equipment.
Coolican started her automotive career in 1983 working at Volkswagen of America (VWoA) in international purchasing. From 1985-1989, she worked as the fleet administrator for VWoA. Coolican joined McCullagh Leasing in 1989 working as the director of fleet operations.
In 1992, Coolican joined AlliedSignal in Southfield, Mich., where she worked for the next 12 years. In 1997, she was promoted to global fleet manager for AlliedSignal. At the time, AlliedSignal’s fleet included 2,200 sales/managers vehicles, of which, 1,600 were based in North America and 500 in Europe, along with 120 executive vehicles. Coolican managed AlliedSignal’s Fleet Management organization as an operating unit within Business Services, which was an internal service organization that offered over 78 different services to employees and businesses of AlliedSignal. During Coolican’s tenure at the company, AlliedSignal acquired Honeywell in 1999 and following the acquisition assumed the Honeywell name for its brand recognition.
While at AlliedSignal, Coolican’s responsibilities included acquiring company cars for sales force and executive staff, along with negotiating purchase prices, quantity discounts, and drop ship prices. Her job function required that she administered the company cars throughout the life of the vehicle in accordance with company procedure, managed titling, licensing, and the ultimate resale of the vehicles. Her remarketing responsibilities included negotiating the sale of the cars with drivers, auto auctions, and/or individual buyers. Coolican’s job duties also involved negotiating with leasing companies and implementing agreements.
Coolican departed AlliedSignal in 2001 and worked in a fleet capacity for Frito-Lay in Plymouth, Mich., from 2001-2004.
In 2005, Coolican started a new career as a care giver working in the assisted-living industry. She worked for various assisted-living companies, such as Home Instead Senior Care, Visiting Angels, Sunrise Home Care, and TLC Home Care in Commerce Township, Mich. While at TLC Home Care, Coolican cared for the resident senior citizens, which included assisting those afflicted with Alzheimer’s.
At the time of her passing, Coolican was retired. In addition to her husband James, Coolican is survived by her sister Roswitha Geiger and a brother Ekehard Albicker. Both live in Germany. Her brother Armin Albicker and both her parents preceded her in death.