The Results Are In: Company Vehicle Programs

What is the best company vehicle plan for getting salespeople and key managers where they need to go? Recently, Welding & Gases Today conducted a poll of GAWDA members to get to the bottom of the company car debate. There are several options available to distributors—most prominently in which the company owns or leases the vehicles, where the company provides an allowance or where the company reimburses miles driven.

Vehicle Programs Among GAWDA DistributorsThe April 2011 poll garnered respondents from 25 separate distributor member companies, and the results indicate a clear trend. Forty-eight percent of distributors indicate that they provide company-owned or -leased vehicles to their employees.

Among alternative program options, distributor response is split. Twenty-four percent of distributors are using a mileage reimbursement program. Bill Proctor, president of nexAir (Nashville, TN), comments that the company uses a Web-based reimbursement program. In addition to the convenience of entering mileage online, he says employees like the benefits of the program. “The employees can choose the vehicle they want to drive and the reimbursement is non-taxable,” says Proctor.

Vehicle allowance programs account for another 24 percent of distributors, including one distributor who indicates that his company is transitioning from company vehicles to a car allowance program. Four percent of distributors offer employees a choice between a company vehicle or mileage reimbursement for employee-owned vehicles.

While a clear majority of distributors employ company-owned vehicles, Tony Hopkins, sales executive at Welding Distributors Partnering Group (WDPG), a division of The Horton Group, says that vehicle reimbursement and allowances are becoming “an increasingly popular approach.” This is evidenced by distributors switching in recent years to these alternatives. Along with the one respondent currently transitioning to an allowance program, General Air Service and Supply Company (Denver, CO) and Abbott Welding Supply (Olean, NY), as noted in “The Company Car Debate,” both switched from company cars—to a vehicle allowance program and a mileage reimbursement, respectively.

Among respondents, all 25 companies indicate that they provide a vehicle program of some kind. Says General Air President Brad Armstrong, “The number of miles our salespeople travel will wear out a vehicle pretty quickly. I just don’t think it would be right for us not to provide that benefit for them.” Regardless of the program a distributor chooses, the results indicate that a company car program is a necessary benefit for traveling employees.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association