Opening day of our rodeo-inspired meeting started with introductions led by Kenny Watts, Carco NationaLease, this year’s meeting chair. He also introduced Dean Vicha, President of NationaLease, who shared some of the successes NationaLease has experienced over the past year and the goals for the year ahead.
We got into the cowboy spirit with our keynote speaker, Jim Whitt, who spoke about the power of change. He demonstrated some of his ideas by lassoing Hayes Conn of Hub Truck NationaLease, who was a very good sport! Our morning continued with an in-depth discussion on electrical systems, facilitated by NationaLease VP of Maintenance, Joe Puff. Panelists were Ray Hellmand, Interstate Batteries; Arnold Kowal, Maxon Lift Corp.; Brian Thompson, Remy International; and Phil Walsh, Mack Trucks. The ever-popular Idea Session closed out the morning with 30 great ideas and best practices shared by members. Votes were cast for the best ideas and the winners were announced the next day. Those winners were Ken McGarvey of All Services Leasing, Inc., a NationaLease Member in 1st place; Jim Ryan of Kris-Way Truck Leasing, Inc., a NationaLease Member in 2nd place; and Sam Lord of Kirk NationaLease in 3rd place.
The afternoon sessions began with a discussion of CNG focusing on overall service readiness, including shop modifications, training, service documentation, parts information, technical support and issue resolution led by Kevin Holland of Daimler. I had a chance to share some of the exciting new programs from NationaLease Home Office, including our technician recruiting initiatives and new Emergency Services and Fuel Directory apps. The afternoon concluded with a members-only session, with open discussions on a variety of topics impacting nearly of all of the members in the room.
The evening’s festivities guaranteed that everyone found their inner cowboy. With many of the attendees gussied up in their best western gear, the evening began with a down-home barbecue and continued with activities including armadillo races, roping and quick draw competitions, and a Western photo booth.
The second day began with a topic that is near to the hearts of everyone in our industry—reducing downtime. Jack Schickler of Pro-Mech led the discussion and shared statistics on major downtime causes, their costs, and the ways in which they can be conquered – permanently. Some of the more effective ways of doing this are using in-house repair techniques and enhancing the skill sets of your current staff of technicians. Shop Talk Part 2 provided an opportunity for the members to share their concerns with the suppliers and get some answers on some of the most challenging issues they are facing. Tom Boyer of Hogan Truck Leasing, Inc., a NationaLease Member facilitated a panel discussion on Warranty Best Practices. He was joined by Stephane Godbout, Location Brossard NationaLease, Jill Nowlin, Cummins Inc., Ken Singleton, Aim NationaLease, and Matt Ward, Volvo Trucks North America. Closing out the morning session, we heard from Misty Ross of Universal Technical Institute who talked about UTI’s partnership with NationaLease and the ways they are focusing on bringing trained diesel techs into the workplace.
The afternoon’s programs led off with a members-only conversation with the Supply Management Team. David Nitzsche, Senior Vice President of Supply Management facilitated a conversation with Rob Garcia, Director of New business Development, Joe Puff, Vice President of Truck Technology and Maintenance, and Andy Stopka, Vice President of Member Programs. They discussed the current opportunities for our members to take advantage of programs offered by NationaLease in the areas of products and services and capital equipment. They also discussed trends to be aware of and some changes on the horizon. This conversation was the perfect introduction to the Trade and Technology Fair. As always, our suppliers provided great information, as well as great prizes, and an afternoon of learning about the latest offerings.
This evening’s Awards Dinner gave us an opportunity to recognize both our members who have provided great Reciprocal Service, and the best diesel techs in the industry. First, we presented the Exceptional Service Awards. These awards are given to the members who have received the most votes from their peers for providing exceptional Reciprocal Service. Please view for a full list of winners. The final awards of the evening were presented to the Tech Challenge regional winners, as well as the 3 Top Techs. These Top Techs will be representing NationaLease at this year’s TMC SuperTech competition.
- This year’s second runner up is Brian Peters, Salem NationaLease.
- The first runner up is Erick Poffenberger, McCoy NationaLease.
- And this year’s Top Tech is Bob Mrzyglod, Aim NationaLease.
The final day of the meeting, we were fortunate to hear three information-packed presentations. First, Andy Stopka, Vice President of Member Programs, shared information about the latest enhancements to NationaLease Road Rescue. Charles May of Teletrac then gave us an overview of fleet management system technology adoption along with a discussion of the growing demand for technology and its impact on transportation management. To close out this year’s meeting, Joe Puff, VP of Maintenance, gave an update on the regulations administered by GHG 14 and how that affects maintenance practices.
This was truly a great meeting. We learned a lot, made some new friends, and reestablished bonds with old friends. I’d like to thank all of this year’s attendees, speakers, sponsors, and staff. We are looking forward to next year’s meeting, which will be held on May 13-15, 2015 at the Harbor Beach Marriott in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. I hope to see you there!