Since it is currently 21 degrees in Chicago, I thought it would be a good idea to head south for my February member visits. Even though it rained almost the whole time I was there, I certainly couldn’t complain about the (much) warmer weather and the wonderfully warm Southern hospitality.
I started my trip by flying into Charleston, SC and heading directly to Summerville (it even sounds warm!) to visit one of our Developing Members, Triple T. I spent some time with Stewart Brown and Kim Hunter, learning more about their business and their plans for growth. We also discussed the resources NationaLease has available for Developing Members and all members, including our Website, Webinars, and meetings throughout the year.
I left Summerville and drove to Savannah, where I spent the night in a lovely hotel (thanks, Priceline!) on Ellis Square and had a wonderful meal with some Southern staples—shrimp and grits included. The next morning I made the short drive to Garden City, GA, where I met with Bert Herrin of Truck and Trailer Leasing. We discussed several of the purchasing programs NationaLease offers. I also learned that Truck and Trailer Leasing has a customer that they have renewed every year since 1972. Now that’s customer loyalty!
From Savannah, I traveled north to Charlotte, a city where NationaLease has a very strong presence. I stopped in first to see the folks at Advantage Truck Leasing; Ken Adkins, Bill Bradshaw, Ronnie Brown, and Steve Wilcek. We had a great discussion, and they provided me with some excellent feedback on everything from NationaLease Road Rescue to our Website. I even found out that Ken used to live just blocks away from where I live now.
After a long two days of traveling, I was fortunate to be just a few short miles from my hotel in downtown Charlotte, where I would be staying for a couple of nights while visiting the members around Charlotte. It even stopped raining for a while, and I was able to walk around the downtown area and see both the Panthers and Bobcats stadiums. I was disappointed that I didn’t run into Michael Jordan, but he was probably getting ready for his big 50th birthday party.
A good night’s sleep and a hearty Southern breakfast got my day started right, as I headed over to visit the folks at Southeastern Leasing. I was treated to a great tour of the facility, and our group continued to grow as the tour progressed. Jim Smith, Leon McLean, Joe Lossick, Brad McMahon, and Mike McMahon joined the tour, as did Fred Schmidt, who I had the chance to personally congratulate on his qualification for Masters Club for the 8th time! Even though it was raining (again) we took the tour outside to see some rental trucks with great NationaLease branding.
From there, I drove to Claremont, NC to visit Danny Abernathy, who represents Catawba Rental Company. We discussed a number of things, including the upcoming NationaLease meetings: The Spring Business Meeting which is being held March 12-14 in Naples in conjunction with the TRALA Annual Meeting and the Spring Maintenance Managers Meeting, which will be held in Chicago on May 15-17.
The next morning, I left my home-away-from-home in downtown Charlotte, and drove north to North Wilkesboro, NC. After leaving the expressway to fill up my tank, my GPS directed me the final few miles through some back roads and beautiful scenery as I drove into the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. At Fleet Master, Inc., I met with Charles and Steve Ellis. I learned about their company and their customers, and had the opportunity to discuss many of our programs, including our Products and Services purchasing programs, and NationaLease Road Rescue.
On the last leg of my journey, I made the drive over to Winston-Salem, NC. The sun came out and the day was beautiful as I pulled into the corporate offices of Salem Leasing. Tom Teague welcomed me into his beautiful office decorated with hunting trophies and walls of photos. Ken Teague, Dennis Giff, and Doug Chase joined our discussion which ranged from National Accounts to purchasing programs. As we discussed Reciprocal Service, Tom shared one of their best practices for keeping their people focused on providing great service. Whenever they receive a “good” test call, they send a small incentive item to the employee who answered the call. This is a great idea that all members can use to reward employees for helping to maintain the foundation of great Reciprocal Service within our system.
Thanks to all the members I met on my trip for their warm hospitality, great feedback, and new ideas. I always appreciate hearing from our members because I learn so much from each of them. It is amazing to think of the years of leasing experience within our organization. With that level of expertise, it is no wonder that NationaLease enjoys the kind of customer loyalty that keeps customers coming back for over 40 years!
I look forward to seeing many of you in Naples soon!