For most of us who grew up in the United States, the Canadian geography is somewhat misunderstood. As I planned this month’s trip, this misunderstanding became obvious.
I was heading to Prince George, British Columbia, which I knew was generally in the middle of British Columbia, and therefore north of Vancouver. It should be easy enough, I thought, to stop in Vancouver on my way. I opened the NationaLease Website to the Locations page to map out my trip, and was surprised to see that Vancouver wasn’t within the 300 mile radius of Prince George that our map identifies. A quick follow up search on Google Maps added to my surprise. Even though Prince George is in the middle of the province, it’s still approximately a 10-hour drive to Vancouver—a completely alien concept for all but a few Americans—primarily Texans and Californians. After a little further investigation, I realized I could still make my plan work, thanks to the fact that nearly every flight to Prince George from Chicago has a layover in Vancouver.
John Williams of Calmont Pacific NationaLease kindly offered to pick me up at the Vancouver airport in order to make the most of my six-hour layover. First, we drove to the site of his striking new facility still under construction. I had the chance to walk through and take a look at all the ingenious features he is incorporating into the building. I can’t wait to see the photos when it’s done! Next, John gave me a driving tour of Vancouver as only a local can. I saw some of the most scenic views of the skyline, drove through neighborhoods with amazing homes, and experienced the spectacular Stanley Park with its winding trails and enormous old trees. We ended the tour of Vancouver at Seasons in the Park, a lovely restaurant with a breathtaking view of the city. Over lunch, John and I discussed many of the NationaLease programs, including the discounts available to him from the many vendors who participate in our purchasing program, and the upcoming Canadian Leadership Summit, which will be held in Winnipeg this year on November 3-5. The very enjoyable afternoon came to an end too quickly, as John took me back to the airport and I boarded a plane for Prince George.
Except for the imposing trees and the picturesque mountains that provide a backdrop, Prince George couldn’t be more different from Vancouver. While Vancouver is the most densely populated city in Canada, Prince George is a quiet logging town of 80,000 people. The next morning in my conversation with Tom Coffey of Alliance Leasing, LTD., a NationaLease Developing Member, I learned even more about the differences in Prince George as they pertain to truck leasing. Given the local industry is predominately logging, the trucks and trailers I saw, both on the road and in the yard at Alliance, were quite different than the ones I saw in Vancouver, and nearly anywhere else for that matter. Trucks are allowed to have a GVW of up to 140,000 pounds, and double trailers are fairly standard. The specialized logging trailers that secure huge loads of full length cedar and pine tree trunks are very common there.
Tom told me that another feature unique to British Columbia is the tridem-drive tractor, which has a third drive axle. These are allowed in special applications in other parts of Canada, but in British Columbia, they are allowed across the board without requiring any special permits. These powerful tractors are necessary to pull the heavy loads, often in off-road or steep and slippery conditions that are common in the logging industry as well as some other applications in the northern part of the province.
After a full tour of Tom’s facility and some discussions on various member programs, we went to lunch at Moxie’s, a local restaurant, and sat outside on what was an absolutely gorgeous day. Tom then took me on a drive around town, and up through the campus of the University of Northern British Columbia. It is a new university, established in 1990, and the hilltop campus overlooks the City of Prince George and offers spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains to the east.
On my way home (which takes most of a day between layovers, time changes, and long flights), I had time to reflect on the striking differences between the two places I had just visited. Those differences are the very reason I like to make these trips. It would be easy to think, “Once you’ve seen one truck leasing shop, you’ve seen them all,” but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The local industries, and therefore the needs of the customers, vary greatly between the densely populated cities and the wide open spaces of the American and Canadian West, and between the ports on the coasts to the landlocked stretches of the mid-continent. I think this is why, even with the amazing technology we have today, nothing can replace meeting people face-to-face. This is also why NationaLease has been successful for over 70 years. With “National Connections, Local Ownership,” our members are able to meet all of their customers and know their unique needs. They have the ability to understand nuances of the customers’ business that someone from outside the local community would easily miss. I know for sure that I learn something new with every trip. So if you have a chance to get out and go somewhere new, I encourage you to do so. At the very least, you might get to brush up on your geography.
Image source: commons.wikimedia.com