This month, I can honestly say I spent some time “on the road” as my April trip took me from Latrobe, PA to Albany, NY with several stops between. I logged quite a few miles on the Ford Focus I rented, but after the winter we’ve had, I was just glad I didn’t see any snow!
I flew into Pittsburgh and drove to Latrobe, PA to visit with the folks at Fox & James NationaLease. Tom James, Bob Dempsey, and Brian Butterfield joined me for a great discussion on a variety of topics from National Account business, to our Remarketing group, to technician training. After we wrapped up our conversation, Linda James joined Tom and me and directed us on a fabulous tour of Latrobe. I learned all about the four most notable items in Latrobe history. 1. Arnold Palmer grew up in Latrobe and still lives there. (We drove by his house and had dinner at the club that has been serving Arnold Palmers for over 20 years). 2. Mr. Rogers grew up there. (We drove through Rogers-McFeely park and past the Fred Rogers Center). 3. Rolling Rock Beer was brewed there for many years. (We saw the brewery which now brews some other beer brands). 4. And finally, the banana split was first created at the local Tassel Pharmacy. (I unfortunately did not have a chance to sample a banana split while I was in town). After dinner at the Latrobe Country Club, where Arnold Palmer learned to play golf (and still does), it was time to say goodbye to Latrobe and my fabulous tour guides.
The next morning, I drove from Cranberry Township, PA where I had stopped for the night, to Girard, OH and the headquarters of Aim NationaLease. I had a great meeting with Tom Fleming, Terry DiMascio, Ken Singleton, and Jeff Manion. We discussed several of the recent initiatives that NationaLease has developed to support our membership. The Rebate Reboot program, which was recently completed, was a team effort by members, suppliers and NationaLease staff to streamline the rebate process and maximize the rebate dollars realized by members. The results were a return of over $9 million to our members. We also discussed our efforts to help members with recruiting, including our partnership with Universal Technical Institute and our career page on nationalease.com. We also reviewed Aim’s new career site where they currently have posted a number of open positions around the country. We also talked about the upcoming Tech Challenge, where two of Aim’s technicians will be competing, and the Maintenance Managers Meeting, where Ken Singleton will be serving as a panelist on a discussion about warranty best practices.
From Girard, I headed east to Erie, PA, where I met Joe Benacci of Truckmen Services LLC, a NationaLease Member. Joe shared some highlights of his long company history in Erie, and we discussed some of the projects NationaLease is currently working on, including our new member websites. Several of our members have already built their new websites. We left the office and drove around Erie to see some of Joe’s other properties, and some highlights of Erie including the Brig Niagara, which defeated a British squadron of six vessels in the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812. We also drove through Presque Isle State Park, which has a long peninsula dividing Lake Erie from Misery Bay. From Presque Isle, you can look back toward land and see the city of Erie, including their new convention center and the Brig Niagara harbored in the bay. We ended the tour with dinner at the country club before I hit the road once again to stop for the night in Buffalo.
In the morning, I continued onto Rochester, where I had the chance to visit two members. I started my day at Conway Beam NationaLease andmet with Jay Hill and Jay Rossitz. We had a great discussion regarding our National Account program and our Reciprocal Service System. We also discussed NationaLease Road Rescue, our 24/7/365 emergency breakdown service which is available to our members. From there, I headed across town to DeCarolis Truck Rental, Inc., a NationaLease Member. Mike Margarone, Ken Anderson, and Joyce Burshtynsky sat down with me to review some of the resources and new features on our website, including the Buyer’s Guide and the rebate resources, in addition to our archives of newsletters and webinars. We also reviewed the Supply Management programs they currently utilize and which ones are additionally available for them to save money. After our meeting, Paul DeCarolis joined Mike and me for dinner in nearby Fairport, a lovely little village on the Erie Canal. Over dinner, Paul filled me in on the resurgence of business in Rochester, especially with new start-ups coming into Kodak Park, the industrial park once occupied by the Kodak company. As the evening ended, I found my way to the nearby Woodcliff Hotel to get a good night’s sleep before the last leg of my trip.
The next morning, I got back on the road and continued east to Albany. My last (but not least) stop was at Leroy Holding Company, Inc., a NationaLease Member. There I met with John Reiser and reviewed their purchasing and rebates with him. We discussed their business and the growth they are currently experiencing, as well as some of the growing pains that come along with that growth, such as the challenges in recruiting diesel technicians. I showed John how to post jobs on our career site, and told him more about how to take full advantage of NationaLease’s partnership with Universal Technical Institute. We also talked about the upcoming Maintenance Managers Meeting, as well as the 70th Annual Meeting, which will be held in Dallas on September 28-29.
Being “on the road” has some ups and downs. The long hours alone in the car can become exhausting, and I have often forgotten my room number in the 4th hotel in a week. However, any minor inconveniences are well worth the experiences I have with our members in their hometowns. Not only do I get to learn about their businesses, local economies, challenges, and successes, but I also get to see places I would never see and learn about local customs, residents, and claims to fame I would never hear about if it weren’t for the NationaLease members who welcome me into their towns and cities. It is this same warmth and hospitality that keep NationaLease’s customers coming back year after year to work with the people they know and trust. The “Local Ownership” part of our tagline is still the backbone of the NationaLease system. As we come into our 70th year and beyond, it will continue to be what keeps our customers coming back.