As we kick off the new NationaLease blog, I want to share with everyone the great experiences and adventures I have as I travel around meeting all of our members. Over the last year and a half, I have had the chance to visit with many of the members, and I still have a goal of getting to see each and every one. I’ll be sharing the highlights of my trips here.
I started 2013 with an old-fashioned road trip to visit old friends, and meet new ones. I already had my car packed, so I headed out straight from the office and made the trip down I-55 from Chicago to St. Louis. No matter how many times you’ve seen it, the first glimpse of the Arch, especially at night, is spectacular. I was fortunate to have booked a hotel right across the street from the Arch, so I was able to appreciate it from both far and near.
My first visit was a short distance away at Hogan Truck Leasing’s downtown St. Louis facility. I sat down with several of the folks there, spending some time reviewing their purchasing from last year, and looking over new purchasing programs. Our Supply Management group works hard all year to make sure we have the best possible programs for our members. I find that it is often a challenge for members to stay up-to-date with all of the programs, so I am always available to spend time with them, reviewing the programs they are using, as well as the ones they aren’t. We can usually find at least two or three programs that can add value. If any of our members are interested in a purchasing review, please let me know. We can arrange a time to do it over the phone, if not in person. A special thanks to Brian Hogan, and to Matt Hanford, who volunteered to be my tour guide around the St. Louis facility. Matt also drove me over to the nearby Bridgeton facility (very impressive). I had a chance to learn a little about how the folks at Hogan are partnering with Children’s Hospital, and was able to see the tractor and trailer that Hogan donates to them, displaying both the Children’s Hospital and Hogan logos. Matt and Chris Baer also treated me to my first Syberg’s chicken sandwich, which I highly recommend if you are in the St. Louis area!
From there, I headed down the highway to Fenton, MO to visit the folks at TLC NationaLease. Thanks to Greg Nanna for spending some time with me and sharing his feedback. Among our many topics of conversation, we discussed how convenient it is to get to this year’s Maintenance Manager’s Meeting in Chicago, not only from the Midwest, but from all over the country. The Maintenance Meeting committee has already begun working on the agenda for this year’s meeting, which will also see the culmination of our Reciprocal Service Rally. This is one you won’t want to miss! I also let him know that the location is across the street from the largest (and one of the nicest) malls in the Chicago area, so I’m sure many wives will be looking forward to making the trip this year as well!
After leaving TLC, I headed back north to Springfield, IL. As I arrived at my hotel, it seemed like the place was overflowing. There were so many people in the lobby and parking lot; I had trouble getting through with my luggage. I found out from the front desk attendant that the new state Senators and Representatives had just been sworn in, and all the restaurants and hotels in the area were hosting parties for them and their staffs and families. Since the hotel is less than a block away from the Capitol, it was a prime location! In addition to the newly minted Illinois Congress, and the hospital where I was born, I also had a chance to see Crossroads Truck Solutions in Springfield. I met with Tim Hogan and was able share with him some of the initiatives NationaLease has been working on, such as the Reciprocal Service Rally. We also talked about how well the Reciprocal Service system is working in their area—Crossroads, Hogan, and Williams all work together to take care of customers, and each other. Tim gave me a tour of his spotless maintenance facility as well. It is always inspiring to hear the plans our members have for growth into 2013 and beyond.
I continued on north from Springfield, and stopped off in Normal, IL to visit the folks at Williams NationaLease. Sandy Hakes shared good news about a very successful 2012 and her plans going into the new year. They are also looking forward to the Maintenance Meeting as well as the Annual Meeting being held nearby in Chicago this year. The Annual Meeting will be at the J.W. Marriott in downtown Chicago, close to lots of entertainment and shopping—and the weather should be great in September! Sandy was one of the very first members I visited back in 2011, and I appreciate her taking it easy on me back when I didn’t yet have answers to all her questions!
As I left Williams NationaLease, I pulled on to the highway and headed north, just a couple of hours away from home. Thanks to everyone who took time to meet with me, extend your hospitality, and share your feedback. I appreciate the opportunity to learn about each of our member’s unique businesses. As different as each member may be in size, market, business model, or geographic location, I always find there is one thing in common. Each member takes great pride in serving the customers in their area better than anyone else can. I think that is really what sets NationaLease apart from the competition. Every person I meet, from the shop floor to the executive office, has a true focus on making sure the customer is always first. Our tagline of “National Connections, Local Ownership” is brought to life every day by all the folks who do their small part to take care of each customer. Thanks to all of you.
I look forward to telling you about my next adventure. Who knows where I’ll turn up next!