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News & Press: NVLA News

Longtime NVLA Leader David Blassingame Announces Retirement

Tuesday, February 19, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Mike Mathy
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NVLA Past President and Clemens-Pender Award recipient David Blassingame, Managing Partner of Dallas-based Autoflex Leasing, announced in January that he is retiring on February 28 after a 46-year career in the automotive industry.


Blassingame began his career in the automotive industry in 1972 and spent 12 years working in the body shop and service department before taking a position as leasing specialist with Autoflex Leasing in 1985.


“I started off as a cashier in a body shop at a Chevrolet store. I worked in the back-end of the business for the first 12 years. Then I sold cars because I wanted to get into the front-end of the business,” said Blassingame. “Every job I’ve had was just another piece of my education.”


Blassingame was named sales manager in 1987, senior vice president in 1992, and managing partner in 2009. Today, Autoflex Leasing has three sales and leasing offices in the Dallas area and leases and sells over 300 vehicles per month.


Looking back at his nearly 34-year tenure at Autoflex Leasing, Blassingame said he was most proud of the individuals who work at Autoflex Leasing.


“We’re fortunate. We’ve got a lot of long-term employees, and they’ve been very good at their jobs, been successful, and been able to put their kids through college.”


Blassingame, who joined the National Vehicle Leasing Association in 1988, said the Certified Vehicle Leasing Executive program initially attracted him to the organization.


“They take you a little more seriously if you’ve got a designation because you’ve done the study work and you’ve passed the test,” said Blassingame, who earned the CVLE designation in 1996. “(Earning the CVLE) was beneficial in the legislative work we did because I was certified by a national organization.”


Blassingame, a longtime leader of NVLA’s legislative advocacy efforts, noted he was particularly proud of a 12-year campaign to eliminate the ad valorem tax on personal use leased vehicles in Texas, which boosted annual taxes on lessees from around $150 to over $1,000.


“With the advent of the computer in the early 1990s, county appraisal districts all linked up and they figured out they could tax personal use leased vehicles and they started levying tax,” said Blassingame. “We got together with the NVLA, all of the Texas members, and the lenders that funded the leases in the state of Texas, and we began a legislative effort to eliminate the ad valorem tax personal use leased vehicles.”


During this time, Blassingame first gained exposure to the NVLA Board of Directors by serving as Texas chapter chair in 1991-92. He rejoined the board in 2002 and rose to the office of president in 2006-2007.


“We were a growing organization, and business was good,” Blassingame recalled. “We had a really good board. I had guys like Dale Davis, Mike Woods, and Tarry Shebesta, who was past-president at the time. We got a lot of stuff done.”


The Great Recession in 2008 coincided with the end of Blasingame’s time on the NVLA Board of Directors. The profound impact of the economic downturn on the independent vehicle leasing community prompted NVLA leaders to ask Blassingame to return to the Board of Directors in 2009, where he was instrumental in helping to guide the organization back to health.


For his distinguished service, Blassingame was awarded the Clemens-Pender Lessor of the Year Award in 2014. This is the highest honor to be bestowed by NVLA and is given to the lessor who best exemplifies the highest standards of professional conduct including dedication, hard work, and ethics.


Blassingame -- who also was recognized with the President’s Award in 1999 and 2006 and Distinguished Service Award in 2018 – said receiving the Clemens-Pender Award was the highlight of his career.


“I've always tried to work hard, be honest, and do the right thing, and receiving the Clemens-Pender award was recognition of those qualities by guys I had known for years and years. That’s the high point of my entire career.”


Blassingame noted that his involvement in NVLA – and his service to the organization -- was vital to his professional success.


“When you become a leader in your state, and people call you to ask you what they should do, it makes you a leader in your profession in the area that you work, and you get to meet with other people that do the same thing you do,” said Blassingame. “NVLA allowed me to learn what other leaders in our business were doing in their areas and how they were growing their businesses. And then you can take that knowledge back, and apply it to your business, and it becomes very valuable.”


Blassingame said he plans to spend some time in Mexico after he retires but will remain engaged in the vehicle leasing industry.


“I'm going to continue doing the radio show that I do every week (The Saturday Morning Test Drive) and I'm going to continue to do legislative work. I'm not completely retiring, I just won't be coming into the office every day,” said Blassingame. “I've had a good run. It's not over, but I've had a really good run.”

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