Vice President of Corporate Payment Solutions, WEX Inc.
You transitioned from many years being known as Wright Express. How was that received?
I think the rebranding effort has been really good for us as we advance our global strategy. When you think of the word – Wright Express – a lot of folks thought of package delivery or a trucking company, so we wanted to look at a different name but not lose the identity of Wright Express. Many people called us WEX for years so we felt by changing the name to WEX we still kept the identity of Wright Express but it was a name that would really transfer better overseas and in different countries as we continued to expand. The new logo is a little bit more prominent and a lot of good marketing efforts have been underway. I think it has brought our name back to the front of the listing end.
Let’s talk about the Fleet One acquisition and what that market and partnership are like for you.
We have taken the opportunity for the last couple of years to look at the “over the road” (OTR) market and ways to enter that market whether we expand our platform, partner with a company, or in this case with Fleet One, make an acquisition. A number of our fleets are referred to as mixed fleets, which might have some light trucks and sedans and they also have some OTR trucks. Our program is primarily for the lights and the sedans and we were always looking to add another piece of the OTR solution.
Our program runs much differently than it would for a normal universal card. The needs of the OTR market are different, there are different pricing schemes, and things that our customers need: cash advance, cost plus pricing, things of that sort. The acquisition of Fleet One provides a program that is established, a network that is already in place, a lot of the controls that the fleets are looking for and ultimately, the ability to handle our mixed fleets with our one-card solution.
Let’s talk about alternative fuel.
A number of our customers are looking for different ways to incorporate alternative fuels into their business. The industry’s infrastructure just isn’t where it needs to be at this point in time so we do what we can to help the merchants and steer the vehicles to where we know the acceptance is. Our role is really two-fold: One – to make sure we have the acceptance so when a merchant does put in a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) site or a charging station, the WEX Fleet Card is accepted there and we have the right product codes. Two – to make sure we can accurately report the product codes.
We are a member of the PCATS Board. We work with them to establish the proper product codes so that the reporting can be consistent throughout that organization. The government space has mandates on alternative fuels and the amount of fuel they need to purchase. It doesn’t do government fleets any good if they can’t report their data because the product codes are incorrect.
Today we have a number of fueling stations in our network with all different alternative fuels including Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and CNG. There are also several electric charging (EV) stations that accept the WEX Fleet Card and we will continue to develop that network and meet the needs of our customers.
Is there anything that stands out with alternative fuels in terms of reporting?
Accuracy. Whatever measurement that alternative fuel is going to be reported in, fleet managers need to know quantity of measure. Knowing the locations is also very important. If there is a charging station that drivers have been using, they want to know how to return to it. Fleet managers are directing their drivers based on activity they have seen. They want to see timely reporting, accurate reporting and consolidated data that flows in and allows them to make better decisions on buying vehicles. They are basing their future vehicle purchases on the alternative fuel infrastructure that is available to them, so the locations are very important.
What role do you play in terms of reporting?
I think from a data strategy standpoint everybody is looking for more data. They want actionable data; they want data that is timely. They don’t want you to just send them the data. They want you to package this together, interpret the data and then guide them into the decisions that they need to be making.
Look at fuel data aggregation. You take the pieces of data that you get from telematics and you marry the two of them together and you get some reporting that is exponentially greater. Now we are looking to expand on that even more to take more pieces of data that customers may be getting from a different source. They may not even be getting all of the data they need now but when we package the whole picture together it is really going to reveal some areas where they can look to control costs, reduce their fueling and better manage their fleet.
It is not just supplying fleet managers with the data. It is being able to take all of this data and really interpret it and tell them what they don’t know. We try to find different areas of potential savings and then provide that back to our customers in a form they can take action on.
You are doing a lot of business with government fleets. What does your team do to assist these fleets?
Our government business has really taken off in the last couple of years. We have a dedicated team both in sales and on the relationship side. We also have an inside dedicated team on the customer support side. There are a lot of nuances to the government business. We have to have tax tables built. We have to understand the importance of the data reporting. There is a lot of reporting that has to be sent up throughout the organization. I think that the government line of business is one that needs to have focus. Again, we have a dedicated team that knows that business that gets involved in the industry. It has really allowed us to grow that line of business both at the federal level down to the state level and then even down to the local level.
We have put teams in place now that have increased the “piggybacks” on current clients to secure state contracts. There are a lot of municipalities, cities and counties that can ride that contract but they may not be aware of it. So, we have sales teams that are reaching out to those folks; it is really just maximizing the benefit. It is a benefit to all levels. It is a benefit to the state because it’s more economic involvement. It is a benefit to all of the municipalities who may not have been able to get a program that is as robust as it could be, so it just really brings the economy to scale for them. It all comes from having a dedicated team that can do that and WEX has that team.
Bernie joined WEX Inc. in 1996 as a District Sales Manager and his career has been a steady progression of increased sales and marketing responsibility between existing and new segments of the Fleet and Virtual Payments business. In 2008 Bernie was named Vice President of Corporate Payment Solutions. In this role he is responsible for overseeing the retention and growth of all mid- to large size customer relationships in both the Fleet and Virtual Payments lines of business. He also has responsibility for the Partner relationships, helping the Fleet Management companies grow their business and oversees the acquisition and growth of the Government line of business. Prior to joining WEX, Bernie held a number of roles with Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Enterprise Leasing.