Fleet News

Industry jobs: Senior hires at Bridgestone, Sogo, Red Driver Training and Stewart Signs

Jan-Maarten de Vries and Michiel Wesseling to lead Bridgestone Mobility Solutions business unit

Bridgestone has appointed Jan-Maarten de Vries and Michiel Wesseling as CEO and COO of its Bridgestone Mobility Solutions (BMS) business unit.

Thomas Schmidt, the co-founder of Webfleet, will be leaving Bridgestone and his role as CEO and managing director of the BMS business unit at the end of this year.

Schmidt led Webfleet Solutions – formerly known as TomTom Telematics – to become Europe’s leading telematics business. In early 2019, the business was acquired by Bridgestone.

Schmidt will be leaving Bridgestone to pursue a new venture: sharing his experience and inspiration with young entrepreneurs and start-ups.

In his place, De Vries, who joined Bridgestone in July as VP data solutions and innovations, one of the four business lines within BMS, will become CEO of the business unit.

Before joining Bridgestone, De Vries worked in global strategic and marketing leadership roles with Wabco, TomTom and Philips.

Joining De Vries is Michiel Wesseling, who will become BMS’s chief operating officer – a newly-created role responsible for the operational aspects of the business including its supporting functions.

Wesseling has spent the last 11 years of his career at Webfleet Solutions, of which more than eight were spent as VP finance and operations.

Bridgestone EMIA CEO Laurent Dartoux said: “Thomas has had an incredible impact on not only Webfleet Solutions or Bridgestone, but mobility in general throughout his long career in our industry.

“He is a true pioneer, whose energy, network and expertise are unrivalled. He will be missed, but I know he will be of huge benefit to the young entrepreneurs out there.

“Jan-Maarten and Michiel are two experienced and driven leaders who represent a new era for Bridgestone Mobility Solutions in a very important time for digital mobility. Our pipeline of in-house talent has once again been put to excellent use.”

Sogo announces two new hires

New mobility provider Sogo has announced two key hires to support its ambitious growth plans.

Mike Pearce joins the business as director of operations and Lee O’Connell is appointed as sales director.

Mike Pearce was previously head of brand at BCA market place and commercial director at Autologic, and will be tasked with focussing on customer experience and driving operational efficiencies.

Meanwhile, Lee O’Connell joins Sogo to lead a national sales team. He was previously the sales director at Agility Fleet and held roles at Vauxhall.

Karl Howkins, managing director of Sogo, said: “Mike and Lee bring a huge amount of experience and enthusiasm to the team and a focus on building a business that offers something truly new and exciting to the market.”

Sogo offers leases available from one month to four years and is aiming to build a fleet of around 5,000 vehicles in its first year.

Red Driver Training appoints Neil Cunningham to target fleets

Red Driver Training has appointed Neil Cunningham as non-executive chairman to support the business’ expansion into corporate driver training and wellbeing.

With more than 30 years’ experience working across the automotive service industry, Cunningham is well-placed to support the business through this period of growth, it says.

Cunningham has a wealth of experience working in fleet and vehicle rental for private equity owned and listed businesses including household names Europcar and Hertz. Most recently he was Group CEO of Kindertons Group, the fully integrated credit hire business.

The appointment follows Red’s acquisition by a private equity consortium led by Tri Mountain and Ashridge Capital in 2019.

Red is now seeking to further accelerate its growth and profitability, with a special focus on the provision of driver risk management services to the fleet sector.

In March 2020, Red acquired corporate training provider NFE. Cunningham has been brought on board following the successful integration of this business into the Red Driver Risk Management and Wellbeing brands.

Cunningham said: “The company has a strong commitment to road safety for all drivers, and I’m excited to help make Red Driver Risk Management an important part of future expansion.”

Ian McIntosh, CEO of Red Driver Training, added: “Neil’s extensive background in the corporate fleet market brings a wealth of experience to our team and we look forward to developing the Red Driver Risk Management business.”

Stewart Signs appoints new MD

UK branding and graphics specialists Stewart Signs has appointed Gareth Livingstone as its new managing director.

He takes over the role from Anthony Townson, who has spent more 37 years in the business since taking over from his father, Roy in 1983.

Livingstone was previously operations director and director of rail at Ast Signs where he worked since 2005.

Townson will continue to support Stewart Signs in his new position as chairman of the Board.

He said: “Gareth has already added a lot of value since joining earlier this year. He’s got the knowledge and experience of the industry, he’s a great relationship builder and I think he’s the shot in the arm this business needs.

“It became apparent very quickly that he shares our values and understands our clients’ needs. He’s an innovative thinker, solution driven and a great team builder.

“I cannot think of anyone better than Gareth to re-energise Stewart Signs and lead it into this next phase.”


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